Let me preface this by saying this is my opinion only, and do not reflect the views or positions of the Liberal Gun Club.
One of the frequent questions I, and other liberal gun owners get, generally after having had to explain that yes, I am in fact liberal, and yes, I do in fact own guns, and have for a very long time, as well as being a certified instructor, is why bother with The Liberal Gun Club? The NRA after all just supports gun rights and pro gun candidates, nothing else, so why do you feel a need to go with a club that self identifies itself as somewhat partisan just by the very nature of it’s name??
The answer is that it’s complicated. The NRA has done and continues to do some good things. Many shooting ranges across the country wouldn’t exist except for NRA grants and funding, and they have, over their history, probably helped to train in one way or another, more civilian gun owners than about any other organization. Those two efforts are absolutely laudable, and for those things I did support them at one point.
However. There’s the other part of the NRA- their legislative lobbying arm, the NRA-ILA. While yes, they have been part of a number of pro-gun lawsuits over the years, there’s also some pretty disturbing stuff that they, and by the nature of their affiliation with the NRA, have supported.
Going back to the 1960’s, the NRA was actually pro-gun control, but it was pretty specific in the regulation is supported. Those readers who live in California are all too familiar with what Ronald Reagan passed as governor, The Mulford Act. This was passed in response to the Black Panthers who were (legally) open carrying firearms in patrols to protect their neighborhoods in Oakland from police brutality, and finally at the state capital. This spooked the republican politicians as well as the NRA at the time. The act, in and of itself, was racist in origin, as the legislation was specifically to address African-Americans who were open carrying, nothing else. (For the record, I’m not a fan of open carry in general, but I am a fan of equal protection, and am definitely not a fan of laws based on racism).
Now you might say that their efforts around gun control are ancient history. I’d say that yes, they were awhile ago at this point, and they have shifted to oppose most of those types of efforts. However, some disturbing things continued on.
In the late 1980’s, in response to a massive uptick in violent crime, the NRA started lobbying with efforts called “CrimeStrike” (More recently being used in a very different fashion as a show featuring when gun owners use their guns in self defense, but that’s not what it was then). These efforts lead the way for mandatory minimum sentences in this country, which as is now fairly common knowledge, has created a country where we have 25% of the worlds prisoners, with just 5% of the worlds population- largely driven by these mandatory minimums on non-violent drug offenders. (Source Politifact) The NRA has pushed the for profit prison efforts for years in addition to supporting the mandatory minimums laws, which has created a whole industry around keeping people incarcerated rather than making them productive members of society.
The result of these efforts on minority communities? Massively imbalanced sentencing, huge numbers of the African American community in jail, and a lost generation of young African American men’s opportunities to succeed. (And yes, they are still betting on this broken system today)
Tie these systemic efforts in with the NRA leadership council and their presidents statements like these:
Nugent described Obama as “a communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured, subhuman mongrel.” (Yeah. There was some additional blowback on that as the roots of that particular phrase is pretty disgusting)
When Heston was asked by filmmaker Michael Moore why the United States has such a high rate of gun violence compared to other developed nations, Heston responded, “Well, we have probably a more mixed ethnicity than other countries.”
Jeff Cooper, in dismissing urban gun victims the majority of which are young black males wrote in Guns & Ammo that “the consensus is that no more than five to ten people in a hundred who die by gunfire in Los Angeles are any loss to society. These people fight small wars amongst themselves. It would seem a valid social service to keep them well-supplied with ammunition.” (from VPC below)
And the list goes on. VPC has a pretty good summary here: VPC NRA
Then we have them hosting Muslim bashing party (Courtesy of the SPLC)
This Sunday in St. Louis, the NRA plans to host retired Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, a radical Islamophobe who has said there should be “no mosques in America,” as keynote speaker of a prayer breakfast at its annual conference. Boykin has asserted that “Islam is evil” and “a totalitarian way of life” that “should not be protected under the First Amendment,” among other things.
And how does the NRA feel about lefties like me?
Apparently we’re soldiers for the “violent left” by protesting the actions of the current administration.
Perhaps they don’t realize how tone deaf they are. Perhaps they do and are intentionally using the proverbial dog-whistle
With some of these statements and policies however, it’s gone far beyond dog whistle and has become acceptable to them to say these kinds of things.
So yeah. As someone who has written here about solutions to violence, and the stupidity of many gun regulations, I just can’t bring myself to align with an organization that condones or merely has blinders on to the hateful rhetoric and harmful actions that the NRA has taken over the years. I hope they change- as we need them to if they are going to be relevant. But it’s going to take them making some fundamental changes and disavowing language and actions like these. Pursue evidence based policies that work, rather than sound bites that play well to a fraction of a fraction of the United State populace. Until then, I’m sticking with the LGC.