“Law-abiding gun owners.” That is the collective that many in the gun enthusiast’s community would like everyone to believe defines their unity. They want to project a singular voice to fight those who they believe are “taking their rights”. But they are not unified. They don’t have an across the board message that defines their fight. And now, they are beginning to draw lines to fight each other as owners, fora, lobbyists, manufacturers, pundits and celebrity spokesgoons [I’m looking at you Nugent] posture to sell their particular case.
The subject…expanded background checks. It seems simple enough. Having each and every gun sale, whether from a gun shop, a gun show, the parking lot behind the gun show, an internet driven face to face sale in a Walmart parking lot or a transfer between friends verified. The process would drastically cut down on “off the books” sales that criminals use to buy and sell weapons, usually stolen from “law-abiding gun owners” or from straw purchasers. It seems simple…
The NRA drafted their opinion on the subject with a simple statement…
“We think it ‘s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone. That means closing the Hinckley loophole so the records of those adjudicated mental ill are in the system.
This isn ‘t new, or a change of position, or a concession. I’ve been on record on this point consistently, from our national meeting in Denver, to paid national ads and position papers, to news interviews and press appearances.” Wayne LaPierre, May 27, 1999
Well, that was their statement in 1999. Now leap forward 13 years and the NRA spokesman…wait, could it be the SAME Wayne LaPierre has a slightly different view…
“And when it comes to the issue of background checks, let’s be honest – background checks will never be “universal” – because criminals will never submit to them.” Wayne LaPierre, January 30, 2013
And the NRA released a more defined statement from NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox in January 2013…
“NRA does NOT support universal background checks and is not working with [Senator Joe] Manchin [D-WV] to implement this type of legislation. NRA opposes, and will continue to oppose, universal background checks and registration schemes.” Chris W. Cox, NRA Chief Lobbyist, January 25, 2013
And by slightly different view, I mean opposite. Then again, in 1999 LaPierre presented the NRA position, “We think it’s reasonable to support the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act.” In 2012 he said “Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones. They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”
Besides the conflicts between the NRA and the NRA, the gun manufacturers’ lobby further shows that fracture to the unified front. National Shooting Sports Foundation president Steve Sanetti said in an interview…
“From the commercial side, we’re already there, and we’ve been there, and we were the ones that have been the strongest proponents of an effective, complete background check.” Steve Sanetti, NSSF, March, 2013
In the day since the Washington Post ran the story with the direct quote from the NSSF president, the NSSF have been trying to backtrack neither explicitly refuting their statement nor its intent.
Looking further into the fracture of opinion within the gun community…the January 9, 2013 CBS/NYT survey shows that 85% of NRA households support background checks, in direct opposition to the NRA’s stated position.
To further contribute to the fracture within the gun enthusiast community, one group of gun manufacturers and dealers has pushed an attempt at a boycott of police in states that enact gun regulations. That has been met by a group of large city mayors and police chiefs who are telling gun manufacturers that they will focus their lucrative police department gun contracts only to manufacturers, as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak put it “that share our values and support our strategies.”
Removing the conflicts from the big lobbying organizations and manufacturers sales to city and federal governments, we still have THE “gun owner”. Unified except that some gun owners represent an intractable position on gun regulations, some represent an understanding that some regulation is required to maintain a reasonable society, and some just want to hunt and target shoot…unfazed by the whirling dervish that is this gun violence conversation.
So the Mexican Standoff is complete. NRA v NRA v NSSF v gun manufacturers v government checkbooks v NRA members v liberal gun owners v hunters v police chiefs v the American public.
“I’ve got a big suspicion ’bout ammunition. I never forget to duck.” Jimmy Buffett, 1996
McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.
You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.