I grew up in the country. I would not be exaggerating when I say that my entire family hunts…I actually just polished off some venison jerky that my grandfather sent me the other day. Being in touch with the land we live in–even if it means sitting in a tree stand for hours on end in the frigid cold–is a necessary part of life for many Americans, as it should be. Behind all the computers and fast food and highway systems is the land our forefathers first settled on and made a living off. We cannot forget that.
I am also a progressive, today. There’s obviously no secret to that–I am the young, journeying progressive, and I love it.
But what I don’t love is when my grandfather calls me up on the phone enraged over the last NRA flier he got in the mail telling him that Democrats are going to take away his guns. My grandfather–a Vietnam veteran, who has raised a large and successful family and has never committed a crime in his entire life. The NRA has the audacity to use my grandfather’s fear for their own selfish political purposes.
His first worry–“they’re going to take away my guns!”–is easy to combat, and I’m glad the Supreme Court finally ruled on it in DC v. Heller:
The Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed.
Up to that point, my position had always been “listen Grandpa, as long as I am alive, writing, and influencing policy, no one will ever take your guns away from you. I promise.” The NRA characterizes all Democrats and progressives by that small, less than 1% of our ranks who actually believe that all guns should be banned. I support the Second Amendment, so does every other Democrat I know, and I know that we all want to see guns stay out of the hands of children, criminals, and terrorists.
So what does the NRA have left to argue? That, somehow, fully-automatic and semi-automatic firearms are going to be used by families like mine for “self-defense” or “sportsmanship.” And what is their rationale behind all this? Straight from their website:
The Founding Fathers trusted an armed citizenry as the best safeguard against the possibility of a tyrannical government…Some claim that banning only certain firearms does not constitute an infringement of Second Amendment rights. That measured ploy is not new…. The Second Amendment remains the first right among equals, because it is the one we turn to when all else fails.”
“To prevent the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States from tyrannizing their fellow citizens.”
Translated even further, with emphasis added so that you can see how incredibly radical and extreme the National Rifle Association is:
“They want to carry guns so they can shoot the police, American soldiers, and National Guardsmen ‘if all else fails.’ Tell that to the parents of American soldiers and to members of the National Guard and their families.”
I’m not sure how the NRA gets off being so anti-military, but I’m calling on all elected officials–especially my Republican friends–to denounce this message from the NRA. Stop telling my grandfather and others like him that elected officials are going to take his firearms away; stop trying to create a market for terrorists and felons to shop for fully-automatic weapons; and stop disrespecting this nation’s proud military, both directly and indirectly.
If the GOP is so hell-bent on getting rid of special interest groups, they can start by renouncing their favorite one–the National Rifle Association.
“Our Constitution proclaims that every law-abiding American has the right to own a rifle to hunt and to protect his family. I believe in our Constitution, and I believe in the right to bear arms. I spent a lot of time hunting as a kid with my Dad, as many of us did and do. But the right to bear arms doesn’t extend to felons and children, and it doesn’t extend to weapons with no other purpose than to take human lives.”
All remarks in quotations are fromThe Political Brain by Drew Westen. I highly recommend you pick up a copy and read, if you like progress (you all should be nodding your head).
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