Maybe Try Actually Improving the Country Instead of Peddling Fear

Guns and the NRA

I live in Indianapolis, a detail I haven't been all that secretive about, between reviewing restaurants in town to the fact that my gaming company, Dodeca System is based out of Indy. There are some great things going on in Indy, such as if you're a gamer (and you like conventions) GenCon is right here. On the flip side Indianapolis also plays host to a few conventions I'm not exactly thrilled about, and one of them is in town this week: the National NRA Convention.

In a general sense I'm not opposed to guns. Certainly I have never felt a need to own one -- I pay taxes so the police will come to my aid, and that's as close to guns as I want to get -- but I don't begrudge people wanting to own a gun or two. If you really feel like home security is an issue and you don't want to just rely on police or a security system then, sure, get a hand gun. Keep it locked up and out of reach of children, obviously, but by all means pick up a weapon if that's your desire. By the same token, if you really like to hunt, get yourself a rifle, or a crossbow, or man up and spend three days out in the woods stalking a buck with only a knife and whatever dried mud coats your body. Deer are certainly a problem now since we took out all their natural predators, so go do your part to help control their population.

What I have an issue with is the fetishistic need of some people to own more guns than they could ever possibly need. I've had friends who had gun cabinets loaded with arms and I had to wonder why. Is there some concern that a pack of enraged deer are going to come barging into your house so you need enough guns for every member of your family, your neighbor's family, and a few other house on the block? What's the reasoning behind such a large collection of deadly weapons?

I mean, I understand the need to collect things that make you happy. I have enough movies and video games in my collection my friends and family joke that I could run a Blockbuster Video (which I could if I wanted to get beaten by NetflixOriginally started as a disc-by-mail service, Netflix has grown to be one of the largest media companies in the world (and one of the most valued internet companies as well). Now Oscar-nominated and part of the MPAA, Netflix has not only redefined movie distribution, but what it means to be a movie studio as well. and go out of business). I'm not going to argue with someone about the fact that they like to collect things, but guns aren't the same kind of collection as, say, movies or games or comics. My collection isn't going to kill someone, unless it falls on them all at once and then that's just a freak accident and not, as with guns, the exact intent they were designed for.

There is a contingent in the United States, though, that feel a need to collect guns then protect them at all costs. "It's my God-given right to have these," is a refrain I've seen and heard repeatedly. It's a deep down, past bone and into soul, need for these armaments, and I just don't get it. Beyond the fact that "God-given" is wrong as it's the Constitution that grants the right to own weaponry, I've never felt the soul-defining need to have anything. If something seems that necessary for me it's either food or shelter; nothing else comes even close, not even all my media. And I'm certainly not going to defend my right to own my DVDs while I clutch them defensively to my chest while I threaten everyone else that if you come for them I will use them against you.

It's a circular argument that disproves itself. The claim is that they have a right to the weapons and that they should be trusted with them and then, in the same breath, they imply that any move towards the weapons will instantly result in violence. That, right there, automatically proves they shouldn't, in fact, be trusted with them.

Of course, one of the points of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution is that the arms people clutch to so tightly now were originally granted for the use in a well-regulated militia. I'm not going to debate that point or try to argue whether that was the real intent of the framers or not. At this point the 2nd amendment protects just about all versions of guns, backed up by repeated Supreme Court rulings. Whatever the actual intent was, the 2nd Amendment now protect guns, full stop. But that militia point is worth discussing because there's an implication from some gun-lovers that they have to be ready in case the next revolution is required.

That's not hyperbole. When Obama ran for office, both the first and second time, there were people saying that if he was elected he'd immediately try to outlaw guns. These people would then have to rise up and go to war to protect "their country" (even though in reality supporting the country would mean honoring it's duly run election). After Obama was elected, gun sales spiked in both cases and some (obviously crazy) people talked about finding a way to end his "reign of tyranny". Obviously Obama didn't outlaw guns and it was all just blowing smoke and getting worked up. Still, when Trump ran for office the message of "Make American Great Again" played on these same fears. There were people, "others", who wanted to change the country in ways some didn't like. The message, deep down, was be prepared to rise up because you can't trust the other side.

I bring all this up because the NRA is, in no small part, responsible for this state of affairs. Back in the 1960s the NRA was a responsible lobbying group. Unlike the entity today, old-NRA fought to control guns, to limit who could get them and what kind of weapons should be available. Their goal was to defend the 2nd Amendment by keeping the country safe and reasonable. And then the NRA had its own internal coup and a bunch of extreme-right gun lovers took over the organization. Quickly the NRA shifted and morphed into the entity we know now, one that fetishizes guns and sells a lifestyle that says, "stand your ground against anyone that wants to take your guns from you. And do it with a double-barreled, auto-firing, explosive round chain gun because that's your God-given right as an American."

Okay, that's a touch hyperbolic, but if you look at their materials, or watch NRA TV at all, it's also not far off from what the NRA is peddling. And that's the convention that's come into town. A lobby wholly-beholden to the gun industry that peddles a message of "buy every crazy gun you can to fight the others opposed to you", and they're running a convention that will sell you anything you want, all the gear and guns you could hope for, while speakers talk about politics (and guns), panels discuss lifestyle (and guns), and everywhere in the hall it's guns, guns, guns. And then the President will arrive and give his usual mess of a speech, the crowd will eat it up, and everyone there will get driven into a frenzy.

We don't need to outlaw guns. Basic gun safety, and common-sense laws to keep guns out of the hands of crazy, dangerous people are the solution. It's a solution supported by a majority of Americans (depending on the specific law up for discussion, anywhere between 60% and 80% of Americans support some kind of gun control). But it's a solution that is antithetical to the NRA. It's sacrilege, and the NRA wants to attack it as fast as they can, bemoaning it as a true evil that will destroy the country. They claim the only way to feel safe is with a gun. I say I feel safer when I don't have to worry about 17,000 convention-goers, armed and open-carrying, wandering around the city I live in.