Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

The NRA: Are They Serious About Their Second Amendment Argument?

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.”

Step back and take a look at what the NRA is actually saying here: safeguarding against a tyrannical government, citing the right to bear arms “when all else fails.” With a little help from Drew Westen, let’s translate what the NRA is really saying about why their Republican clients should support (or be bought by) their aims:

“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).

Please join the journeying progressive at For Which It Stands for legendary musings and an insatiable quest for knowledge. E-mail to join the journey.


  1. But I’ve had crap lately. My entire computer was erased. Thank goodness for my blog; at least I can hold on to that writing.

    Seriously if anyway wants to be interviewed or spout their two cents to me, I’m looking to gain knowledge from all walks of life, so please E-mail with your perspectives, the issues that matter to you, the emotions that go along with them, and your raison d’etre in political life.

    For Which It Stands

  2. I was given, on second thought, I was allowed to buy my first shotgun when I was 12. I earned the money mowing lawns and such. It was a beautiful, to my eyes, single-shot sixteen gauge shotgun. I shot a lot of pheasants with that gun over the next few years. Even after I’d purchased a Model 12 Winchester I used it on occasion to bug my friends with their semi-auto Brownings. We’d finish a day of hunting and be laying out the birds and if I had the most I’d say something about buying a semi-auto if I didn’t start doing better soon. I always thought that was funny. I’m not sure my hunting buddies saw the humor in it.

    To get back to the subject, if Americans were allowed to have Uzis or AK-47s they could beat the crap out of the government? Huh? Really? Do they really think mostly untrained civilians could do anything against Apache helicopters, M1A1 tanks, armored humvees mounting .50 cal machine guns, shoulder fired missiles, mortars, etc…? Give me a break.

    A civilian has no need for anything more than a semi-automatic. You don’t need a 30-shot magazine to bag a deer. Hell, you don’t need that many to bag a moose. (Sorry fellow moosers)

    The semi-automatics that would be banned are mostly replicas of military issue rifles and carbines. They can have large detachable magazines and can often be converted to full-auto fairly easily. Personally, I’ve always preferred a pump-action. They are more accurate, nearly as fast, and a lot more reliable.

    This is unfortunately an urban versus rural problem. Cities tend to be more liberal. They also have a hell of a lot more problems with guns. It’s not that liberals are necessarily anti-gun. They are anti all of the violence and deaths caused by guns. Gun violence is way down in rural communities. There are exceptions, as we’ve just seen, however overall levels of gun violence are very different. A lot of factors play into that difference, including population density. Rural areas also tend to be more conservative. The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that this has caused a left/right-urban/rural divide over guns.

    Of course, even though gun ownership rates are higher in rural areas, lots of urban and suburban residents are hunters or come from families who hunt. Liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, makes no difference. They are almost all pro-gun. Some, like myself, see the violence caused by guns and can be persuaded to back a sensible gun control initiative. At the same time, I can be persuaded to back a right-to-carry law. I’ve used guns responsibly for 50 years. I know lots of other people who have done the same for their entire lives. It’s not like guns kill people. People do that.

    Leave the honest, responsible gun owners alone and concentrate on keeping guns away from the emotionally disturbed, children, and criminals. Let the rest of us use our guns in peace.

    If it comes to rebellion, I’m not worried about the size of my gun. I’m more concerned about coming out on the winning side. That would be the right side, of course. The right side always wins. Just read the history books.

  3. …and one of the reasons why you guys never let the state have a ‘monopoly of violence’, I’m probably ill equipped to enter this argument.

    In the UK, especially since the ban of hand guns after the tragedy of the Dunblane Massacre, legal gun ownership is really restricted to hunters and a few shooting clubs. I have no problem with this…

    However, it’s quite clear that with something in excess of 230 million firearms in circulation, something else is going on in the US. Is it really about hunting? Since the bulk of the US population is urbanised, I have a hard time believing that a small percentage of hunters own this many guns.

    Just like other republican identity wars shibboleths, where somehow poor white rural voters somehow voted for tax cuts for the rich, I can’t help feeling that the ‘hunting’ issue has been captured as a false dilemma, to hide some other bigger agenda.

    I know many Americans, most urban dems of course. Very few of them have guns. Something like 95 per cent of all police officers never discharge their gun in anger. The MYTH of the American wild west, of militias, of bearing arms in the last resort, seems to have unhinged itself from reality, and become a freely floating signifier, latched onto by demagogues with different agendas.

    I’ll have to look up my sources at some point, but a couple of years ago I made a comparison. The murder rate per capita in the US is something like five to ten times greater than the UK. But the attempted murder rate is about the same.

    In other words, Americans are no more murderous than Europeans by instinct. They are just better at killing people when they try, nearly all of which can be put down to the 230 million firearms you have in circulation.

    Sorry. I don’t buy the hunter excuse. Every year, tens of thousands die in the US in gun related incidents. You have a 9/11 once every three months or less.

    Bush broke so many constitutional rights because of 9/11, and for years the majority accepted this. Yet you do nothing about this daily carnage on your streets (not in your forests or fields).

  4. spacemanspiff

    I come from a military family and I was taught at an early age to respect guns

    Getting a gun is so easy. They will be in circulation anyways and its a bit late to try to scale back. In my case I’d rather make it easier for lawful citizens to purchase firearms since its so easy for those who don’t mind breaking the law to acquire them. Posing harsher restricitons would only drive up prices and make those that run the rings wealthier.

    The bad guys are armed to the teeth and I’m pretty sure the “war on guns” would turn out as well as the “war on drugs” has. Even the fact that it is legal doesn’t prevent thousands and millions of underground markets to flourish and exist. I have no idea how making the illegal would do anything to curb this.

    Maybe its because I’ve always lived in high crime areas but I wouldn’t want to have somebody breaking into my house and finding myself with no way to protect myself or my family.

    The NRA is full of shit and sorry if I went a bit offtopic there journeying progressive.

  5. ragekage

    I wanted to rejoin the NRA after my membership ran up, but it’s crap like this, the fact they’re a de facto wing of the GOP, that make me so pissed off that I don’t want to do it.

  6. creamer

     Guns are the answer.

    Live in a high crime area, buy a gun.

    Crime rate goes up, buy a bigger, better gun.

    Nut kills people on college campus, arm the students.

    Too many students have guns, arm the teachers.

    Anyone whoever watched Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson know that angry white men with guns are what keep our country safe.

    Has anyone notice that dispite more americans than ever before owning guns, we have more americans in prison than ever before.

    Is this a policy?

  7. creamer


    Seem to show violent crime dropping in the 90’s and leveling off after 2000. Why?

    More people with gun’s. Maybe.

    Huge influx of illegal aliens. Could be.

    Compassionate conservatives. Mmmm….

    Better weed. (Proably worth a study.)

    Michael Moore.

    Maybe it was Clinton putting federal dollars behind hiring more police. It’s that whole big government thing.


  8. wanted to weigh in on this.  im with brit – the less guns the better.  and i think there is something to the fact that per capita canada has the same amount of guns as in the US but that we have so fewer gun–related deaths/injuries.

    my late father (an american) had a gun and to this day never understood why.  im not sure why there is such an emotional and philosophical attachment to guns in the US – i really don’t.

  9. my late father (an american) had a gun and to this day never understood why.  im not sure why there is such an emotional and philosophical attachment to guns in the US – i really don’t.

    It doesn’t matter whether you understand. It’s none of your business, any more than it’s my business what you do in the privacy of your home.

    I don’t understand why the post author is so surprised about what the NRA is saying. The entire purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to prevent a tyrannical goverment military from running roughshod over the Constitution and citizenry. The Revolutionary War started when the British attempted to take peoples guns and ammo in Lexington and Concord.

    As such it is crass and disingenuous for the post author to scream “they hate the military” !!! The entire structure of the Constitution is to make it extremely difficult for a military-enforced dictatorship to evolve. The entire fabric of the Constitution implies there might be a time when citizens must take up arms, and yes, shoot and kill, the U.S. military. To deny this is to admit a profound ignorance of the U.S. Constitution and the intent of those who wrote it.


    And with all respect to Brit, it is not relevant whether he “understands” or sympathizes with this section of the U.S. Constitution and the reasons for its insertion. It is no more relevant than my opinion of the British royalty and peerage. American culture is different than British culture. As it should be.

    That said, I think the NRA’s insistence on keeping highly automatic weapons (ie. fully auto with large clips, Uzis, AKs, etc.) on the market is crazy.

    Oh. And in most states it is much much harder to get a concealed weapons permit than to get a drivers license. Also, states with the highest per capita private gun ownership (rural states) tend to have the lowest rates of gun-related crime. Maine, where I live, has a very high per capita gun ownership rate and one of the lowest gun crime rates in the country.

  10. To justify 15,000 plus deaths a year through gun crime on the basis ‘The British are Coming’ is not one of the most beautiful parts of the American constitution, and US political life.

    In 2006, there were 13,470 fatalities in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver (BAC of .08 or higher) – 32 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year.

    In 2006, 16,005 people were killed in the United States in alcohol-related* motor vehicle traffic crashes (BAC of .01 or higher).

    To justify 15,000 plus deaths a year through alcohol related car fatalities on the basis of  “I like to have a drink now and then” is not one of the most beautiful parts of the American constitution, and US political life.


  11. creamer

     My view is we are. All of the data Brit has shown supports this in my view.

    I fully support the rights of hunters and sportsman to purchase and own guns. I see no reason for easy access to handguns or assault style semi-auto weapons. There are two things present in a gun related death, a person and a gun, and you can only regulate one. The whole “guns don’t kill people do” has a nice ring to it but is misleading at best.

    To me the Constitution was a starting point for an idea that men and women could govern themselves looking for the common good. It was not intended to be a rigid doocument forever locking thought and governance into the 18th century. It would seem the changes and amendments mentioned by others bears that out.  

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