The Sunday Edition

Michael's essay: The NRA used to lobby for gun control

“Given the mental derangement of the leadership which runs the current NRA, it's hard to believe that for much of the 20th Century, the organization was in the forefront of preaching gun control.”
"It wasn't until the Sixties that the NRA, and the people who run it, let slip their grasp on reason," Michael Enright writes. (David Goldman/Associated Press)
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Here's a quote from the president of the National Rifle Association: "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under license."

The NRA president was Karl Frederick, and he was making his argument to the United States Congress — in 1939.

Given the mental derangement of the leadership which runs the current NRA, it's hard to believe that for much of the 20th Century, the organization was in the forefront of preaching gun control.
A young woman poses for a picture while holding a rifle at the NRA's annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia in Apr. 2017. ( Scott Olson/Getty Images)
In fact, the NRA leadership actually lobbied for gun control and co-authored gun control legislation.

In the gangster era of the 1930s, the NRA helped Franklin Roosevelt to draft the first federal gun control laws. It wasn't until the Sixties that the NRA, and the people who run it, let slip their grasp on reason. With the political assassinations, urban riots, the rise of the Black Panthers, gun owners got worried. Their fears were stoked by a new leadership of the NRA, which warned that Big Government was coming to take their guns.

As the young students return to their classrooms at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, this week, presumed adults in the U.S. Congress stumbled again around the eternal issue of gun control.
Students rally in solidarity with those affected by the school shooting in Florida, at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 21. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)
Even though a majority of Americans want greater controls, even though unnumbered thousands of young students fired the imaginations of parents and responsible gun owners across the country, legislators froze before the altar of the NRA and the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

In point of fact, the NRA leadership couldn't care less about the Second Amendment. Preachments about its sacredness are camouflage for the real purpose of the NRA. The only mission of the NRA is to service the U.S. gun industry, which makes the United States the world's largest exporter of small arms.

Even though the charter of the NRA prohibits the lobby from spending money abroad, it has managed to work around this detail. Canada has not been immune. In the 1990s, the government of Jean Chretien announced it would tighten Canada's gun laws.
During his term in office, Prime Minister Stephen Harper killed the registry and destroyed the ownership records of 5.6 million rifles and shotguns.
The NRA responded by threatening a boycott by American hunters, whose tourist dollars benefit many parts of the country, particularly in the West.

The NRA worked with pro-gun lobbyists to repeal the country's long gun registry. Over the objections of law enforcement, the Harper government killed the registry and destroyed the ownership records of 5.6 million rifles and shotguns. With Congressional elections coming in November, it's unlikely candidates for the Senate and the House will collectively or individually defy the NRA.

After the massacre of 20 toddlers and six teachers at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, I wrote that nothing would change after the slaughter. I was wrong. Gun sales shot up.

Worshippers attended a blessing ceremony with their AR-15-style rifles at the Sanctuary Church in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania earlier this week, prompting a nearby school to cancel classes. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
On Wednesday, in a small church in Pennsylvania, they held the Blessing of the Guns. Many congregants showed up with their weapons in hand. The church was packed, the faithful packing. Guns and God. They are, to a large extent, what defines the United States.

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