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49


L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 49, June 30, 1999

Letters to the Editor

by Our Readers

Send Letters to TLE@johntaylor.org


Letter from Jeff Colonnesi

           I have heard a lot about the NRA recently. I've heard the media tell us how the NRA is losing its power. I've also heard them say how it is becoming more mainstream and less extremist. I've heard our prez tell us how it strong-arms and buys off politicians. And I've heard Libertarians decry its stance on gun issues. I have also heard Libertarians say how it is two timing us and that if it hasn't sold us out yet, it will soon.
           All of the above miss the point. The NRA is made up of individuals. And like most organizations that set goals based on the input from its members, it tends to pursue policies that the majority of its members back.
           Members like the deer hunter who feels that "armor piercing" ammunition is only useful to kill people and should be banned. When you mention that that would ban most deer cartridges, they naively think that an exemption for ammo that has a "legitimate sporting purpose" would protect their pet deer cartridge. Like the gun store owner who feels that they should force gun shows out of existence and all "private" transfers should be forced to go through an FFL holder. When you talk to them about the right to sell your own property and buy from whoever you want to, they can't see past the idea that it might hurt their business. Like the goose hunter who sees no use for high capacity magazines (after all, you can only have 3 in the gun when you're hunting geese) and feels they should be banned. When you talk about defensive uses, they just snort and say things like "no one's going to walk away from a round of 12 gauge buck". Like the target shooter who sees no use for a high powered rifle because the only thing the leagues nearby shoot are .22's. When you mention high powered rifle competition or deer hunting or defense, they say things like "a rifle that kicks that much can't be accurate" or "deer hunters just go to get away from their wives and drink" or "I have a security system for that". I'm certain that I'm not the only one who is run into gun owners, who support the NRA, who have opinions like these.
           Now many of them are willing to let others use firearms of whatever type they want for whatever purpose as long as it doesn't affect them. But outside of their particular sport, they are woefully ignorant of firearms. When they see things about "assault weapons" and saturday night specials" on the evening news, they are only marginally better informed than someone who has never touched a gun. And most of them don't believe, not even for a second, that the government would ever come for "their" guns. So when someone proposes a gun control scheme that doesn't affect their sport, and explains it away as "not affecting law abiding gun owners", they buy it hook, line and sinker.
           For years gun owners like these flat out told the NRA to protect "their" guns, not the guns the criminals are using. In the last 10 years these gun owners have finally started to wake up. But the leaders of the NRA had already been told for years that this gun control scheme or that gun control scheme was ok with their members as long as sporting guns were not affected. Some of them didn't want to go in the new direction their members called for. Some of them were willing but didn't know how to start, or how far the members really wanted to go. And by the time they got over their inertia and turned the NRA in approximentaly the right direction, many of the "hard core" gun activists had turned their back on them in disgust.
           On top of all that, politics is slow business. It took the anti's 70 years to get to the point they are at now. And it is likely to take a another 70 to get back to where there are no gun laws. But many of the NRA's biggest critics complain that they should do it all now. News flash: it ain't gonna happen. Maybe, just maybe, if every one of this nations 60 - 70 million gun owners stood up, picked one organization to join, told the politicians that they wanted ALL the gun laws repealed and made certain they knew that that was the only issue they would use to decide come election day (party lines, taxes, drug laws and the economy be damned). Even then it would still take 4 to 10 years to get enough politicians in office who were willing to vote that the 2nd Amendment means what it says and that "shall not be infringed" means that the government doesn't have the right to say one word even if I decide to put a missile silo in my front lawn.
           Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the NRA is the be-all and end-all gun activist group. Far from it. However, I haven't seen any other group on the national level that can even hope to pull off the admittedly minor legislation that they have. And they have put through legislation. For example, twenty some states have passed CCW reform in the last ten years. Most of those the NRA has helped to push through. Even look at the current fiasco in the House. If you read the amendments that the NRA actually was supporting, you will find they repealed the Washington DC ban on handguns, allowed law enforcement officers to ignore concealed carry laws and carry where they wished (admittedly not as good as everyone, but a start), changed the current ruling that the FBI has 3 days to conduct a NICS check to give them 24 hours instead and required that all NICS records be immediately destroyed. And the gun show provisions? What they gave up was to require anyone who rented a table at a gun show, and sold firearms from it, and who did not have an FFL to conduct a NICS check on any buyer. News flash: anyone who meets those criteria right now is committing a felony under current federal law.
           As far as the laws and bills they have lost on, do you really think that the NRA can say to a legislator "vote this way" and they will do it unquestioningly? Not likely. They just don't have that kind of power.
           Bottom line is this. I think the best thing for gun owners to do would be to contact the NRA by e-mail or snail mail (so there is a record of it), and tell them that they want every existing gun control law repealed. Contact as many officers as possible as well as the NRA-ILA and their Grassroots division. Mention the things that they have done well as well as those their screw ups. Tell them that you are watching what they are doing, not only though their press releases, but through ones from GOA and other groups as well. And make sure they know that you will decide whether or not to join / renew / cancel based on what they do in the next few months. Carrot and the stick. You think the leadership of the NRA will respond to 5 or 10 or 20 or 60 million gun owners who write letters like that? I do.
           Sorry to make this so long,

Jeff Colonnesi
jcolonne@flash.net


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