"If we're going to get past this almost hysterical fear of trying to do anything at all on gun rights," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked on Friday during her breaking coverage of the mass shootings at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT, "if we're going to try to puncture the myth that anything to reform or rationalize gun laws is absolutely, politically impossible as a categorical thing, what would happen if we just started at the edges?"
"What would happen if we just started with what even members of the NRA say they want from national gun laws? Because they want a hell of a lot more than we've got right now," she correctly noted. "The organization that they're a member of may not admit that, but when you poll their members, even they want improvements."
She is absolutely right. And so is the rank and file membership of the National Rifle Association when it comes to many of the most pressing gun safety issues. The numbers (read on) are unequivocal. They want what their leadership does not, and by huge margins. The con-men and scam-artists who run the terrorist-enabling NRA racket, on the other hand, as usual, are absolutely bloody wrong.
If we could reform gun safety laws just enough in this country to meet the wishes of the vast majority of the NRA membership, we would be leaps and bounds beyond the deadly political quagmire we have been languishing in as a nation --- thanks to the insidious liars and profiteers of the NRA leadership and the cowardly politicians afraid to take them on --- for at least a decade in this country.
The NRA's loudest and most dishonest voice is its Executive VP and chief political strategist Wayne LaPierre. He is opposed to any and all legislation that might stand a chance of making Americans safer, claiming a twisted and tortured view of the Bill of Right's 2nd Amendment as a prohibition against any and all such legislation...
He, and the NRA leadership, have long opposed common sense laws designed, for example, to keep those on the so-called "Terrorist Watch List" from being able to easily purchase combat-style weapons, laws designed to make it harder for people like the mass shooters in Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT from obtaining high-capacity magazines used to kill dozens of people in a matter of seconds, and laws which would require that those buying weaponry from private sellers at gun shows face the same background checks as those who purchase them at licensed gun dealerships.
Those are all laws supported by an overwhelming majority of NRA members and non-NRA gun owners alike.
LaPierre is also an unapologetic liar. Witness his recent blatant lies about a UN international arms trade treaty which, while having absolutely no affect whatsoever on gun laws or the 2nd Amendment in the U.S., was designed to help keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of worldwide terrorists, drug smugglers, pirates and human rights abusing regimes around the globe.
All the while, why the NRA pretends that it is still operating under its mission from decades ago --- to encourage the safe use of fire weapons by hunters and families in the U.S. --- the (not) "non-partisan", non-profit has become little more than a full-blown racket meant to fool its membership into sending them money to further the aims of the U.S. arms industry and intimidate politicians into doing absolutely nothing about it.
So the membership, the NRA rank and file, is being conned by leadership, who are pretending to represent them. In the meantime, however, while many of the members may be conned, they ain't necessarily stupid. Unlike the leadership, the vast majority of NRA members join the rest of us in the Reality-Based World in favoring many common sense gun safety regulations.
It's not even close, by the way. NRA membership supports many of the policies their leadership strictly opposes by huge margins. Take a look at some of the following numbers from a recent poll of gun owners [PDF] --- both NRA members and non-NRA members --- as commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and carried out last July by Frank Luntz' Rightwing polling firm (yes, that Frank Luntz of Fox 'News')...
• 79 percent of NRA members and 80 percent of non-NRA gun owners support requiring gun retailers to perform background checks on all employees - a measure recently endorsed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry.
• 75 percent of NRA members believe concealed carry permits should only be granted to applicants who have not committed any violent misdemeanors, including assault.
• 74 percent of NRA members believe permits should only be granted to applicants who have completed gun safety training.
• 68 percent of NRA members believe permits should only be granted to applicants who do not have prior arrests for domestic violence.
• 63 percent of NRA members believe permits should only be granted to applicants 21 years of age or older.
• The NRA rank and file also supports barring people on terror watch lists from buying guns (71 percent) and believe the law should require gun owners to alert police to lost and stolen guns (64 percent). The NRA's Washington office strongly opposes both measures.
As Maddow said during her breaking coverage last Friday (video below), perhaps we could begin gun legislation by, at the very least, agreeing to items "on the edges" which all Americans, including vast majorities of NRA members, agree with --- even if their con-men leadership do not.
Of course, there are more stringent measures that are supported by a broad majority of Americans over all, if not necessarily members of the NRA...
Reuters' Celinda Lake and Joshua Ulibarri pointed out on Saturday that "Sixty-three percent of Americans said they favor a nationwide ban on assault weapons, according to a 2011 CBS/New York Times poll, and 63 percent favored banning high-capacity magazines that hold many rounds of ammunition."
In another survey, conducted by Reuters for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, they found "57 percent of Americans support a law that would limit the size of ammunition clips so that the gun could not fire more than 10 bullets without having to be reloaded. Only a third, or 34 percent, of Americans opposed that law."
"Support for sounder, safer gun laws is not restricted to blue states or big urban cities," they also found. "In a study conducted by Lake Research Partners earlier this year in swing state-senate districts in Virginia, we found that two-thirds of voters (65 percent) in a rural western Virginia district believe the gun laws should be made stronger - including 52 percent who strongly believe so. Just 24 percent say they should be less restrictive."
Given numbers like these, this really shouldn't be difficult. How many more dead Americans will it take? The problem is not a lack of support for these measures among the populace. There is clearly a great deal of common ground on which we can all move forward together, with consensus, as a nation, gun owners and non-gun owners alike, to, if not solve every problem, at least swing the pendulum back in the right direction.
The problem, rather, is the unrestricted corporate money and propaganda that explodes in the way of progress, keeping us from even having honest discussion at all about these matters. It succeeds in not only stultifying legislators and legislation, but even in hoaxing gun owners who agree with many of these measures into believing they don't, or that anybody who discusses these issues just wants to "take their guns away".
It is for those reasons that the NRA has more blood on its hands each and every day. They are no longer your grandfather's NRA, and its time its rank and file stood up for real American values and throw the bums out, or leave the organization all together.
With overwhelming consensus like that detailed above, if we can't even honestly discuss --- much less enact --- new regulations to satisfy even the wishes of some of the most ardent gun supporters in this nation, never mind those supported by vast majority swaths of the nation's population as a whole, it certainly makes one gigantic lie out of the beloved, if quickly fading notion, of "American Exceptionalism."
Rachel Maddow's MSNBC coverage from 12/14/2012, featuring some of the poll numbers cited above, and her interview with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), who ran for Congress in order to fight for gun regulations after her husband was among six murdered (with another 19 wounded) during a 1993 mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad, follows below...