They’ve Got The Wrong Talking Point
And it looks like they’ll stick with it ’till the end.
As with all things divisive, the March For Our Lives was either considered a major turning point in history, or a travesty to the American Way. These lines, like always, are pretty much drawn between two camps: For simplicity’s sake, we’ll just label them Conservative, and Liberal. Neither is a perfect representation, but for the moment, these terms will suffice.
No one in this argument condones the events that have been taking place in our schools, concert venues, churches or city streets. The loss of life is unacceptable, and the fear generated by these events is palatable. No one wants the innocent placed in a situation that turns a routine day of classes, or the joy of an event, into a micro war zone. While the discussion and arguing might overshadow that simple fact, please remember that it is there. Gun owners are parents, grand parents, church and concert goers. I’ve shot at targets at a very early age at numerous camping trips, and I have co-existed with people who own guns all my life. I don’t want them, but others do, and it really IS their right to own firearms.
Fear is the driving force behind our current situation. For the liberal, fear of the loss of life, and, by association, the loss of control. For the Conservative, fear of the loss of rights, and by association, the loss of control.
While the conservative force in our country is very pro America, they are also very pro freedom — and in their view, overt politics always threatens to take that freedom. The Liberal, while acknowledging the flaws in the political system, does not consider the government a dampening factor in freedom, but an enforcer, or builder of that freedom.
Conservatives put Trump in the White House for the very reason that liberals dislike him — he is in no way, shape, or form a politician (well, there’s OTHER stuff, of course, but this article isn’t about Trump). For better or worse, even with his considerable flaws, the conservative voters saw the previous eight years as chipping away at freedom. Yes, there’s many levels to that — fear of change, religious ideologies, etc. Still, look at any argument you can think of, agreed with or disagreed with, and it boils down to the basic subject of control. Trump is a product of the perceived loss of control by conservatives in our country. In fact, you can see that same wave in many other countries.
The NRA is, basically, a conservative organization. Once again, I’m generalizing, but I am not writing a book, here, I’m writing an article — Heck, it’s more of an elongated observation. The leadership of the NRA share similar values, feeling that same loss of control, that same loss of freedom, as the conservative. One of those areas of control is the second amendment, and there is a palatable fear that this fundamental right can be removed. Remember, conservatives are not fans of a heavy-handed government, and the right to stand up against that perceived enemy is not just with a vote, but to be able to physically stand up against the political machine if it spirals out of control. The right to bear arms is the right to stop a government that oversteps, just as in the days of the Revolutionary War. It would seem that no one is more patriotic, or mistrusting of the very machine that lead to that patriotism, as the conservative.
You may think that, when NRA spokespeople shout the battle cry of “taking away our rights”, even if you are not talking about taking away all of the guns, it is nothing but rhetoric — Fear mongering. I would like to submit that It is not a false narrative, it’s not a pre-determined talking-point; It is a palatable, real, physical fear on the part of the organization.
The NRA IS afraid. I have been looking over their website, and NRAtv. They are afraid of the political machine, the people who run it, and the voters who might put a liberal agenda into action, and the media that reports it. If you don’t like guns, and think there should be action taken, regardless of the amount of action you consider appropriate, there is a palpable fear in the rhetoric against you by the NRA.
Why? Let’s look at numbers:
There are approximately five million NRA members. The NRA wears that badge of five million width pride. But, in reality, it’s a very small percentage of our county. Heck, they’re a minority group:
There are approximately 313 million US citizens. Let that sink in. The population of the US dwarfs the number of NRA members. But let’s be fair, and look at other gun owners, as well:
There are approximately 78 million American gun owners. Once again, this number makes that five million look quite small. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the NRA is not particularly useful to these people, or there would be greater membership amongst gun owners. On the subject of usefulness, let’s look at a few more numbers:
Of gun owners, 74% NRA members and 84% non-members favor background checks for gun show and private sales. The NRA does not.
Of gun owners, 33% NRA members and 51% non-members favor an assault-style weapons ban. The NRA does not.
So, if the NRA is not actually speaking for the majority of gun owners in the United States, no matter what their view of the second amendment, or their participation with the organization, then what purpose do they serve? In fact, their current stance isn’t actually about guns. It’s solely about the loss of rights. They point that out often and emphasize it in capital letters. To them, this argument is never about guns. Unfortunately, to the general populace, it is very much about guns.
Looking at the above numbers, and considering their current stance, the NRA is, in actuality, not a relevant voice in the current conversation. They are a voice from the past, struggling for a foothold in a changing world. The average person listens to their commentary, and scratches their head — “Are they serious?” And NRA programing reflects that loss of relevance; most of the articles and videos I viewed on their website struggle to continually validate their viewpoint. To prove themselves right to a general populace that is simply unmoved by their argument of rights, as opposed to the question of guns.
To over-simplify: The “City ‘Folk” see guns as dangerous — scary. The “Country ‘folk” see a lifestyle that has always included a gun in the house — for protection, for sustenance, for education, even for bonding. Neither viewpoint is wrong. The conservative and the liberal must converse to come together. Both sides must drop the rhetoric of the extreme to make proper, lasting change that respects the rights of all of our citizens.
Unfortunately, the NRA continues to choose the extreme rhetoric. This pushes them further from the mainstream. Their Five Million Strong is, in actuality, not strong, at all. Their voice is no longer the majority, and people are finally realizing that the perception of the power this organization wields is no longer a given. Not unlike a Tobacco executive trying to justify cigarettes, or an oil executive trying to justify more drilling, the NRA continues to try to justify a position that we have outgrown.
Do not fear the NRA. The NRA fears you.
I pulled figures from the following articles: