Saturday, April 16, 2005

Gun nuts on parade

The NRA is holding its national convention in Houston this weekend. Last night they had right-wing rocker Ted Nugent kick things off by playing the National Anthem on his electric guitar ala Jimi Hendrix. Gov. Rick Perry gave the introductory address on Friday and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was the keynote speaker on Saturday.

These are good times for the NRA - the undisputed heavyweight of political advocacy groups. They have outspent their biggest political rival - Brady Handgun Control - by something like 17 to 1 and the results are obvious. The GOP - which acts like a subsidiary of the NRA - controls every branch of the federal government. Despite polls showing widespread support for the assault weapons ban, Congress let the law lapse rather than risk the wrath of the gun lobby.

I don't have a problem with gun nuts in general (and I use that term endearingly since I am related to a number of self-described gun nuts). But no one I know is as extreme as the current leadership of the NRA. Wayne LaPierre, who coined the term "jack-booted thugs" to describe federal agents, is a certifiable lunatic and the extreme positions he has led the NRA to take over the years has made this country more dangerous. Opposition to the assault weapons ban is just one of many outrageous positions the NRA has taken in recent years. They have also opposed laws limiting the sale of armor-piercing, cop-killer bullets as well as laws banning the sale of plastic guns which can slip by security screens in airports.

The NRA today is a lot like the Christian Coalition in that it would appear to be representing a large segment of our population, but is driven according to an agenda set by a small group of extremists on the far-right fringe. I hope that one day soon some level-headed people will regain control of this organization and restore its tarnished credibility. Until then, I can't see much difference between the NRA and the nutjobs who run these militia groups. Only the NRA is scarier because it has the leadership of our country in its hip pocket.

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