The guns of May

>> Friday, May 07, 2010

The other week I got a call from the NRA. It was pretty funny, and worth staying on the line for. A real person asked me if I'd listen to a tape recording of NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre and then take a "one-question survey"; of course you'd have to be a moron to think that there's anything demographically usable in a "survey" that consists of a single question, but I was happy to play along. The ghost of LaPierre's voice dissembled through the earpiece a bit, some sort of forgettable FUD and nonsense about how gun rights are besieged and then the real person came back and asked me if I trusted President Obama and Speaker Pelosi with my Second Amendment rights.

"Absolutely," I said, stifling laughter. I doubt he wrote that one down.

They probably didn't write anything down for anybody, actually; I imagine if I'd lied and said "no" like I was supposed to, the guy would've asked me for money.

My feelings about the Second Amendment are a little complicated; I think I've said this before. It's a historical curiosity, but I'm not too keen on repealing part of the Bill Of Rights even if it were possible to run the numbers to pass an Amendment striking it; besides which, I know people for whom guns are good and useful tools for obtaining food and dealing with pests, although I'm a city boy and any guns in my neighborhood are meant to be pointed at people so I'd rather they weren't there at all.

I should probably also add that part of the reason I can honestly say I currently trust Washington with my Second Amendment rights is also that I know that major gun control legislation, however much I might like it, is a toxic poison pill the Democrats are unlikely to touch, and indeed the "from my cold, dead hands" crowd seems to have conspicuously missed the fact that last year Congress passed and the President signed a law allowing people to carry firearms in National Parks, a bit of legislation I was opposed to and that makes me feel a little nervous, frankly. In other words, to the extent I disagree with the President about gun control, it appears he's more "Republican" than I am, for want of a cleaner way to say it.

But that's not quite what this post is about, actually. It's more of a prelude that amused me.

Part of the NRA calling up people in Charlotte is that the NRA is having a big shindig up here later this month. There are billboards about it everywhere. Today there was an article in The Charlotte Observer that caught my attention: "Glenn Beck will speak to NRA in Charlotte", and that's what this is about.

There's a very real sense in this country that certain issues are hyperpartisan, even ones that maybe shouldn't be. I mean, take gun control, and maybe this will be a better illustration of what I'm getting at: gun control and ownership isn't actually a left/right issue, it's a gun control and ownership issue. Would-be Marxist revolutionaries like their assault rifles as much as any gun fair regular, and a hard-right fascist might well want only the iron fist of the state defenders of private property and union-busters to have access to artillery. Left and right distinctions, at least in most of the world and through most of history, are about class, economics, the ownership of means of production and proper role of the state in protecting rights or property--stuff about guns is stuff about guns.

So what do we make of the fact that the NRA is calling people to ask a nakedly partisan question or that the guest list at their big hootenanny includes a keynote speech by Glenn Beck (substituting for Sean Hannity), Newt Gingrich, Oliver North and Sarah Palin? I mean, okay, so I really am the stereotypical liberal city-slicker who wants a strong welfare state and thinks owning guns within the city limits is a stupid idea, but supposing I wasn't? In fact, surely it's not that big a secret that North Carolina is one of those Southern states that retains strong historical loyalties to the Democrats (e.g. a grand total of six Republican governors since the Civil War, three of them during Reconstruction, and only two out of the eight since LBJ "lost the South for a generation" and the Dems mid-sixties schism over civil rights, so we're not even talking entirely about the old "Democrats used to be different issue"--a lot of these were progressive Dems, or relatively so); accordingly, there are (trust me) plenty of Democrats with guns around here.

I guess I'm looking at this article, then, and thinking that if I were a gun-toting liberal, a breed more common than most people likely realize, I'd be pretty damn pissed off about the fact that the nation's pre-eminent organization for protecting the rights of gun owners looked a helluva lot like a mini-convention for the GOP. And I wonder, too, where the NRA gets off--I thought they used to pretend their only partisan issues were the almighty right to own a weapon and kill things with it, and if you were a gun-toting commie or a pistol-twirling libertarian they could care less as long as you liked hanging out on the common ground of the firing range. Are they still pretending that at all? Sure, I know, I know, someone is likely to read that and think this is how the NRA has been for twenty, thirty years or whatever, and maybe during that time it's been just as egregiously, nakedly, politically-cast and I just didn't care enough to notice because they were getting together in somebody else's hometown.

And it probably shouldn't offend me so much--for the third or nineteenth or whatever time it is, I'm the NRA's boogeyman, the liberal city boy who favors licensing and registration and opposes concealed weapons and doesn't like 'em in the city limits and votes for people who pass restrictive laws and so forth. I'd be opposed to the NRA agenda even if the keynote speaker was Bobby Seale1 instead of Beck (though I'd give them points for awesome). But what does it say about the United States that we seem to have gotten so crazily binary, so weirdly partisan about the non-partisan?

I wouldn't say it's a good thing, would you? Where's the party for left-wing gun nuts and the party for right-wing pro choicers? Do organizations that ought to be non-partisan based on their alleged portfolio really have to pick sides, or should we drop the pretense that some organizations pretending to have a non-partisan portfolio really have that portfolio (i.e. if the NRA really is nothing more than a mini-Republican caucus, maybe they need to drop the guns schtick and change the meaning of the "R" in their abbreviation).

It vexes me.









1I suppose, for the sake of accuracy, I should acknowledge that Seale reversed his position on gun control in the mid-'80s, becoming a proponent of restrictions in the face of rising violence in African-American communities in the era; throughout the sixties and seventies, as a co-founder of the Black Panthers, he'd been a staunch opponent of gun control legislation, imagine that.

6 comments:

Leanright,  Friday, May 7, 2010 at 1:27:00 PM EDT  

Eric, is that a grammatical error I see in the third paragraph? I guess there's a first time for everything.

Dr. Phil (Physics) Friday, May 7, 2010 at 1:41:00 PM EDT  

Me-too! Me-too!

They probably didn't right anything down for anybody,...

Dr. Phil

Eric Friday, May 7, 2010 at 3:36:00 PM EDT  

::feigns innocence::

Seriously, though, that's what happens when I write something in three interrupted bursts of activity on a busy day. I just hope it's barely coherent otherwise. And thanks for catching that. I think. ;)

Leanright,  Friday, May 7, 2010 at 4:09:00 PM EDT  

Just Curious: Do the citizens of North Carolina support their tax dollars being spent on a PD blogging at work? ;-)

My clients don't know that I READ your blog while at work.

How similar we are!

Eric Friday, May 7, 2010 at 8:29:00 PM EDT  

::ahem::

Dave, sometimes I think you must feel some sort of irresistible compulsion to be a dick.

Leanright,  Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 2:30:00 AM EDT  

Now you sound like my wife!

By the way, good post. I'm a pro-gun control Conservative. I can't imagine not having a waiting period to buy firearms. Anyone running into a store, wanting to buy a gun RIGHT NOW, is the type of person whom NEEDS a waiting period.

Back to Arizona.....Did you know that citizens of that state CAN carry a concealed weapon into a bar or restaurant unless a "No Firearms" sign is posted on the premise?

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