NRA: No Rest for the Ammo

American tolerance of violence is so numbing that it feels almost like an appetite. Or addiction? It is surely an addiction with the National Rifle Association. Far more so with its managers than among its members. How long will the civic-minded members go on allowing the management to work as the tail that’s always waging the dog? What are 30-round clips but addiction?

The response of the NRA’s hired guns to the horror of Newtown has been worse than pathetic. In the face of the nation’s deep sorrow, the response was laced with the arrogance that has always characterized its attitude toward public safety. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again and again: the NRA makes an oxymoron of national security.

Its ability to cow the Congress and state legislators leaves the nation red-faced before the Free World. Every country that is our friend is befuddled that we go on living with a carnage from gunplay that roughly equals their combined tolls from the same threat.

That toll doesn’t yet match the number dying on our highways every year. So why the fuss? Because it’s coming closer every year! The mourning sweeping the country after Newtown shows emphatically that the people want something different. Mass murders in shopping malls have been cutting us to the quick. Yet the haunting memory of the bodies of tiny school children riddled virtually to pieces by bullet holes cuts deeper still. The words intolerable and abominable aren’t strong enough.

The NRA is constantly throwing the Second Amendment in our faces. But the tiny bodies tell us that game has to stop. Adult members who are serious about their hobbies of hunting and target shooting owe it to that pleasure and freedom, even to their own safety, to stop taking it for granted. Honesty should tell them that only lawyers could screw up the real intent of the Second Amendment – as surely they have.

From its first words it states emphatically that the purpose is the formation of a “well-regulated militia.” There’s no doubt that what the Founding Fathers had in mind were men armed at home because they weren’t convinced their ragtag colonial army could win a second war with the Red Coats. Remember, they were trying to convince themselves and the Thirteen Colonies that as the new States they could work together united as a nation.   Their first try, by confederation, had failed largely from petty jealousies that kept them from marshaling a serious army.

Taking the Second Amendment whole, the States have more than succeeded at mounting the “well-regulated militia” through the very popular National Guard, every State’s matchless, proven armor in  crises of every kind, both natural and unnatural. The National Guard today is the backbone of the American Army, for which the Founding Fathers would feel secure and proud. No fear of Red Coats now.

At the top, the NRA is determined to be America’s self-regulated militia, a pressure group able to override the “general welfare” prioritized by the Constitution – in the name, of course, of protecting it. For the sake of ongoing pleasure and common sense, its four million members must bring it to heel, and lead it away from the unfettered gun trade, toward sensible and very necessary bans on assault weapons and military ammunition. Analysts are saying the death toll from guns is on a trend to soon exceed the highway fatalities. That so many victims are children is an inexcusable abomination. The president couldn’t have said it better, “Unless the children are safe, nothing else matters.” Not the Second Amendment. Surely not the NRA.

The NRA’s response to the Connecticut horror is a loud call to arm every school ground and classroom.   Every classroom teacher trained and practiced on an automatic weapon. The least costly method of such protection would be a fence around the school identical to the fence around a prison, with  the tower at every corner staffed by an officer who’s a trained marksman. Turning our schools into prisons would be more than pathetic. It’s insanity.

The Republican Party is owned by Special Interests. It’s the dog that can’t bark unless one of its big tails wags. The bigger are four in number, and they are often braided as one pigtail by their overlapping memberships. They are first and foremost corporate power and its billionaire masters, attended by the Three Not-so-Little Pigs – the Tea Party, the NRA, and Grover Norquist’s mindless signers of his no-tax pledge. Most of them are neocons of one breed or another. All of them put their private interests before the national interest, thus disqualifying them as serious conservatives.

The GOP’s hope of becoming competitive again rides on true conservatives stepping forward, first by wiping away any lingering war on women and declaring women solely in charge of their health, then re-planking its priorities to keep one always out front: “Children first.” The true conservative believes his neighbor’s liberty should always be as great as his own. Doesn’t sound much like the NRA, or the Tea Party, or the No-Tax questers, or the Koch Brothers, does it?  Braid them as one and you’ve got the Tale or Tail of the Big Pigs. When they’re shooting, children are never safe.

Frank Mensel — December 2012