Jewish World Review July 26, 2000 / 23 Tamuz, 5760
The anti-gun bogeyman
SOME OF YOU may not believe me, but I used to think the
National Rifle Association occasionally -- just occasionally
-- exhibited a tinge -- just a tinge -- of extremism and
Don't get me wrong. I've always been a staunch
proponent of the 2nd Amendment, but I just didn't
understand why the NRA seemed to resist even the most
minor restrictions on gun ownership. Who was this
bogeyman they feared?
Confession: I now have seen that bogeyman, and he is
real. My opinion -- which changed many years ago, but
I'm just now getting around to writing about it -- is that it is
not the NRA that is extreme, but the anti-gun bogeyman.
While we're at it, let me say that I intend to say "anti-gun,"
rather than gun control because I think it better defines the
Oh, sure, sometimes NRA spokesmen such as Wayne
LaPierre may engage in inflammatory rhetoric. Even the
venerable gun-advocate Charlton Heston admitted that.
Moses was quick to add, though, that aside from his tone,
LaPierre was correct in his assertion that President
Clinton has been lax in the enforcement of existing gun
The NRA has been ahead of the curve in gauging the
bogeyman's true intent. They have known that his ultimate
aim is complete private gun confiscation. They have
realized that the bogeyman would not be satisfied with
reasonable restrictions and would use every incremental
conquest against gun rights as fuel to fight for more.
The bogeyman's extremism is demonstrated on a variety
of fronts. He demonizes gun supporters as backwater,
paramilitary zealots who are a hair-trigger away from
armed revolt. He characterizes as evil even the most
innocuous and uncontroversial gun-safety programs such
as Eddie Eagle, simply because they are sponsored by the
NRA. He shamelessly exploits gun tragedies, using each
as an opportunity to emasculate gun rights further.
The bogeyman advocates ill-considered policies such as
gun buy-backs that make for great photo-ops, but are
ludicrous on their face. He chooses to ignore repeated
studies showing that these buy-back programs have had no
detectable effect on violent crime or on firearm deaths.
When Congress fails to enact legislation to suit him, he
prevails upon his Constitution-circumventing president to
initiate lawsuits against gun manufacturers to bully them
into making "voluntary" changes.
He often distorts statistics, such as the number of children
who die each day from gunshot wounds, because the facts
stubbornly undermine his cause. In his monomania against
the weapons themselves, he apparently overlooks the
number of lives saved each year because of private gun
He is a selective advocate of the Bill of Rights, treating the
2nd Amendment as a meaningless aberration. He has
convinced himself that the framers intended to confer the
right to bear arms only on the militia and not the citizens
proper. He must have missed Phyllis Schlafly's column
citing framers such as Samuel Adams: "The Constitution
shall never be construed ... to prevent the people of the
United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping
their own arms."
The New York Times reports that the bogeyman (OK, the
Times didn't use that term, but chose "the gun control
movement") has begun the most ambitious campaign in its
history to raise money, recruit soldiers and build public
support for stronger gun laws in preparation for this fall's
national elections. Lo and behold, whom might you imagine
he is looking to for inspiration in this effort? The NRA, of
course. According to the Times, the bogeyman is actually
copying the NRA's grass-roots model.
If you ever thought that it was the NRA that was
single-issue oriented, be advised that the bogeyman is
every bit as focused. In a recent Handgun Control Inc.
fund-raising letter, Sarah Brady wrote, "My friend, if you
and I truly want a safer America, we cannot allow George
W. Bush to be elected president." May I ask, "Safer for
whom, Mrs. Brady?"
When judging the NRA, don't confuse their vigilance for
paranoia. We should all be so vigilant. The NRA and the
bogeyman may be employing similar strategies but they
are quite different in substance. The difference is that the
NRA wants to protect your rights. The bogeyman wants
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