The following editorial was written by former Observer editorial page editor Jerry Shinn. It reflects the views of the Observer editorial board:
The National Rifle Association claims to do some worthwhile work. It teaches people how to shoot, care for and safely store firearms.
Those are about the only worthwhile things it does, and if you think about it, they don’t really matter much. Even if there were no NRA, responsible gun owners would know how to shoot, care for and safely store firearms, and teach their children accordingly. It isn’t brain surgery or rocket science. Only the NRA would have you believe it’s a big deal.
The NRA probably knows it’s not a big deal. What is a big deal for the NRA is to block any sort of reasonable gun control legislation. In that effort, it does nothing for target shooters, hunters or people who want a firearm to protect their homes and families, because nobody in any position of potential authority over such matters objects to firearms for those purposes.
Nor does it do anything to protect the Constitution. The Second Amendment doesn’t mention assault weapons. The mass murderers and potential mass murderers whose right to own assault weapons is so zealously protected by the NRA aren’t part of any militia.
The NRA leadership says the appropriate response to the tragedy in Newtown is to put an armed security officer in every school in America. Fine. Then maybe the NRA will take the money it uses for lobbying against reasonable gun controls and give it to local school systems to help pay for those thousands of additional security guards. But it isn’t going to do that. Instead, it will continue to use its resources to try to assure that a mass murderer will have easy access to a weapon with which he could commit mass murder before an armed security officer could stop him.
If the NRA’s opposition to reasonable gun controls doesn’t have anything to do with hunting, target shooting, collecting, home security, self-defense or the Constitution – and it doesn’t – then what is it that really motivates that organization’s leadership?
Finding the answer to that question is almost as difficult as figuring out why anyone would want to murder all the people in a theater or all the children in a classroom. The answer to either question surely involves some kind of brain-warping sickness.
Most NRA members – good, sensible, sane people – probably don’t believe psychotically damaged people ought to have access to weapons with which they can murder a classroom full of children faster than a police officer can fire much more than a single shot. They ought to demand a change of leadership, and it’s time, way past time, for politicians who enjoy financial support from the NRA to say that no amount of money can buy their support for the murder of children.
In fact, since the NRA does so much real, bloody harm and so little practical good, maybe it’s time for everyone who cares about public safety and the safety of children to stop paying dues or otherwise supporting the NRA. Just get rid of it. America would be a safer, saner place without it.