The Myths and Truths about Gun Ownership
The NRA opposes all "reasonable" gun regulations.
Anti-gun activist groups claim that all of their proposals--including gun bans, prohibitive taxes, registration and licensing to name a few-- are "moderate and reasonable." Those who oppose such ideas, they say, are "unreasonable." And they claim that NRA opposes all gun laws. The truth is, NRA supports many gun laws, including federal and state laws that prohibit the possession of firearms by certain categories of people, such as convicted violent criminals, those prohibiting sales of firearms to juveniles, and those requiring instant criminal records checks on retail firearm purchasers.1
NRA has also assisted in writing gun laws. The 1986 federal law prohibiting the manufacture and importation of "armor piercing ammunition" adopted standards NRA helped write.2 When anti-gun groups accuse NRA of opposing the law, they lie. NRA, joined by the Justice Department and Treasury Department, opposed only earlier legislation because that legislation would have banned an enormous variety of hunting, target shooting and defensive ammunition.3 The sponsor of the earlier bill, Rep. Mario Biaggi (D-N.Y.), felt that his original goals were met by the NRA-backed bill that became law. "Our final legislative product was not some watered-down version of what we set out to do," Biaggi said on the floor of the House. "In the end, there was no compromise on the part of police safety."
Similarly, the anti-gun lobby also continues to falsely claim that NRA opposed all efforts to ban "plastic guns." In truth, no "plastic" firearms existed then or now. NRA only opposed a bill that would have banned millions of commonplace handguns, and instead supported an alternative, the Hughes-McCollum bill. That 1988 legislation prohibited the development and production of any firearm that would be undetectable by airport detectors, and enhanced airport security systems to counter terrorism. In the end, the NRA-backed legislation passed Congress with wide bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Reagan.
At the state level, NRA has worked with legislators to write laws requiring computerized "instant" criminal records checks on purchasers of firearms and those who carry firearms for protection in public. Because crime can be reduced by correcting deficiencies in criminal justice laws and policies, NRA has worked with legislators and citizens' groups in many states to increase the length of prison sentences for violent criminals, to sentence violent criminals to prison rather than probation, to prevent the parole of the most violent convicts, and to expand prison capacity.
There is nothing "moderate" or "reasonable" about the agenda of anti-gun groups. Prohibiting people from keeping guns loaded at home for protection against criminals is not "moderate" (currently the law in the District of Columbia and inherent in legislation that would require guns at home to always be locked.) A prohibition or 1,000% tax on hunting, target shooting and personal protection ammunition is also not "moderate"4 nor is a 1,400% increase in firearm dealer licensing fees and fingerprinting people who buy miscellaneous handgun parts, such as springs and pins.5
When low-income Americans are the people most likely to be attacked by violent criminals,6 prohibiting guns inexpensive enough for them to afford for protection7 is not reasonable. It is also not reasonable to prohibit people who pass criminal records checks from buying two handguns in a given month8 or to prohibit them from carrying a gun for protection.9 And when computerized criminal records checks of gun buyers can be completed in only a matter of minutes, it is unreasonable to delay their firearm purchases with a week-long waiting period.10
The siren call to bow to the demand for "reasonable" gun control is not unique to the United States. In three nations that have much in common with the United States--Australia, Canada and Great Britain--gun owners did not unify to fight the incremental imposition of restrictive gun laws touted as "reasonable and necessary." As a result, firearms are severely restricted in Canada and Australia and almost entirely prohibited in Great Britain.
British gun owners failed to resist the passage of "reasonable" gun laws and have seen their rights almost completely disappear in the space of a few decades.11 England changed from a nation with almost no restrictions on gun ownership and no crime, to a nation where all but certain rifles and shotguns are banned and crime is rising.12 The clear lesson for American gun owners is simple: if you don't fight for your liberties, you lose them.
1. In federal law, 18 U.S.C. 922(g), 922(x), and 922(t).
2. 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(B)(i) and (C). See also 922(a)(7) and (8) and (b)(5).
3. The bill was H.R. 2280, in the 97th Congress. Associate Attorney General Rudolph Giuliani and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement of the Treasury Robert Powis testified during hearings before the Subcommittee on Crime, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, on May 12 and March 30, 1982, respectively.
4. S. 136 and S. 137 "Real Cost of Handgun Ammunition Act of 1997"), both introduced by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y. during the 105th Congress.
5. H.R. 3932, "Brady II," introduced by Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) during the 103rd Congress.
6. Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Changes in Criminal Victimization, 1994-1995," April 1997, NCJ-162032, p. 7.
7. S. 70, "American Handgun Standards Act of 1997," introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calf.) during the 105th Congress.
8. H.R. 12, "Twelve is Enough Anti-Gunrunning Act," introduced by Rep. Charles Schumer during the 105th Congress.
9. S. 707, "Concealed Weapons Prohibition Act of 1997," introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) during the 105th Congress.
10. Advocated by President Clinton and Handgun Control, Inc., June 1998.
11. David B. Kopel, Lost Battles, Lost Rights, National Rifle Association, 1998, p.1.
12. Sophie Goodchild, "Britain is Now The Crime Capital of the West," The Independent, July 14, 2002.
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