Monday, December 24, 2012

Is the NRA a Terrorist Organization?

In exploring the answer to this question, one must separate the NRA leadership from its members. I suspect that many NRA members are sane, law-abiding citizens who register their guns and do not fire them in fits of anger. But an organization reflects the position of its leadership, so when I refer to the NRA, I’m talking about its leaders and sponsors  –  the gun manufacturers.

By this definition, the NRA is not a terrorist organization. The organization itself does not use violence to achieve their goals. Rather, they leverage the killings that their policies abet to lobby for unrestricted access and unbridled proliferation of guns. And I suspect that not all of the hundreds of killers that we read about all too often are members of the NRA.

The goal of terrorists is to instill fear in the general population. And the reaction to that fear is more police presence, more intrusion into the daily routine of life.

Al-Qaida, the preeminent terrorist organization of our time, has forced us to spend billions of dollars on transportation security, establish a multi-billion dollar Cabinet department, and has eroded our freedoms due to government surveillance and intrusion. Al-Qaida has succeeded in instilling fear and achieving their political goals.

While the NRA’s political goals are to elect right-wing anti-gun-safety politicians, they also have a political agenda. More significantly, their stated goal, to establish a TSA-like atmosphere in schools plays off their agenda of unrestricted access to guns and other lethal weapons. And schools are just a start. If we place armed guards in schools, what about malls, churches, parks, and other places where children and adults congregate?  In the end, if the nation adopts the NRA agenda, the result is no different than that which Al-Qaida has already accomplished, only on a much larger scale.

So by strict definition, the NRA is not a terrorist organization and Al-Qaida is. The difference is that the policies of the NRA have resulted in more dead Americans than Al-Qaida could achieve in its wildest dreams.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Gun Nuts are Wrong. But Not for the Reason You Think

First of all, if I intentionally use an inflammatory term like “gun nut”, you need to understand why. In my mind, there are differences between gun nuts and responsible gun owners.

Responsible gun owners keep their weapons locked up when they are not in use. 

Responsible gun owners practice safety first.

Responsible gun owners own their guns because either they feel they need a gun to defend their homes against intruders, or they are responsible hunters, or they are responsible collectors.

Responsible gun owners don’t normally own automatic weapons. If they are collectors and desire to own these killing machines, they have the firing mechanism welded shut so the weapon can never be used to shoot.

Responsible gun owners don’t purchase “cop-killer” ammunition.

Responsible gun owners register their guns with authorities.

Responsible gun owners understand that background checks are necessary to keep guns away from those who would use them irresponsibly.

So here, I’m not talking about responsible gun owners, but the gun nuts. I’m talking about the gun zealots who are afraid that the government is going to take away their weapons, or that the United Nations is going to somehow usurp the Constitution. I’m talking about the nuts who contend that the murders in Connecticut, Blacksburg, Columbine, and elsewhere are the fault of gays, Jews, blacks, liberals, Mayans, abortion doctors, or gun-control advocates.

It’s difficult to put myself in the mind of these gun nuts, but it seems that their main argument is that they need their killing machines in vast quantity and unparalleled lethality to defend themselves against the government. They seem to contend that someday the black helicopters of the “guv’mint” will descend on their homes to take away their freedoms.

Well, gun nuts, I have news for you. The process of the government usurping our freedoms has started, and your guns are impotent. Your freedoms are already being eroded, and your assault weapons are powerless.

Guns cause harm to physical bodies. But the erosion of our freedoms is not corporal, it’s mostly cyberial. (OK, so cyberial is not a word. But I can invent words, can’t I? It’s an adjective meaning “pertaining to cyberspace.”)

Unless you’re a prisoner in Guantánamo, the government is not going to lock you up for your thoughts. But it is eroding your freedoms with the invasion of your privacy through cyberspace.

With the cooperation of the telecommunications oligarchy, the government has complete records on your phone calls and internet activity. Since the so-called “Patriot Act”, the government has access to your financial data, travel activity, and God knows what else. Much of this without a warrant.  Want to open a bank account? You need to fill out Patriot Act paperwork. If you buy e-books or visit a public library, I would not be surprised if your reading habits are being monitored. What we know is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s what we don’t know about government intrusion that’s worrisome. And your guns are powerless in today’s information-centric world.

So to those who believe that the government is going to take away your guns, chill out.  If you’re a responsible gun owner or just a patriotic American, instead of sending your money to the NRA, send it to the ACLU, where it will do some good.