I’ve hesitated giving my honest thoughts on this whole “gun control” hullabaloo for several reasons.
I don’t like confrontation. Nor do I like to label myself, and with all the hatred and vitriol against gun owners in general and NRA members in particular, the coward in me prefers to stay silent in the hopes it’ll all go away.
But even this quiet coward has her limits.
This is not a rant so much, but a recitation of facts, both the purpose of the NRA and why I’m both a member and why banning firearms and repealing the 2nd Amendment is a bad idea (now before you say, “No one is suggesting banning all firearms or the repealing the 2nd Amendment,” I can share plenty of statements all over social media advocating for exactly that).
The NRA was founded in 1871 by Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate, because they were “dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops.” The NRA then and now “promote[s] and encourage[s] rifle shooting on a scientific basis.”
In 1904, the NRA began “promoting the shooting sports among America’s youth by establishing rifle clubs at all major colleges, universities and military academies.”
In 1934, due to concerted and repeated attacks Second Amendment rights (see the National Firearms Act of 1934 and 1968), the NRA formed the Legislative Affairs Division (now known as NRA-ILA [Institute of Legislative Action] which is the lobbying arm and formed in 1975).
Still today, the NRA focuses on promoting shooting sports, hunting, and education (to name a few) while NRA-ILA focuses on state, local and federal legislation pertaining to Second Amendment rights.
The Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program (established in 1988) is geared toward firearm safety for children. They are taught “that if they see a firearm in an unsupervised situation, they should ‘STOP. DON’T TOUCH. RUN AWAY. TELL A GROWNUP.’”
Now for a bit of American history.
The Founders saw first hand what an oppressive despotic government looked like, so they wanted to take as many steps as humanly possible to prevent the fledgling USA ending up the same way.
They wanted the People (and the individual States) to have more power than the federal government. They didn’t want future Americans endure similar or worse oppression. so they took steps to protect their power.
Not only are those steps outlined in the Constitution with the separation of powers between the three branches of government, but also the Bill of Rights.
Aside: Many states refused to ratify the Constitution, because they didn’t think the Constitution as written protected their individual rights. Hence the addition of the first ten Amendments, which are designed to protect both individual and State rights that the Founders (and many of us still today) consider both God-given and inalienable.
The Founders understood that one way to make sure the new government wouldn’t grow too powerful was to guarantee both the States and the People retained certain rights. Those rights included the right to be a part of any religion they choose. They didn’t want anyone forced to be a member of a government-approved or sanctioned religion before they could participate in said government.
As the old saying goes, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” The Founders understood this as well, that speech, especially unpopular or critical speech against the government needed protection.
The rest of the Bill of Rights includes more protections, but my focus is on the Second which states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
First, here are a few quotes from the Founders with regard to rights:
“[The] Supreme Being gave existence to man, together with the means of preserving and beautifying that existence. He . . . Invested him [man] with an inviolable right to personal liberty and personal safety.” ~ Alexander Hamilton.
“There can be no freedom where there is no safety to property or personal rights. Whenever legislation . . . breaks in upon personal liberty or compels surrender of personal privileges, upon any pretext, plausible or otherwise, it matters little whether it be the act of the many or the few, of the solitary despot or the assembled multitude; it is still in its essence tyranny. It matters still less what are the causes of the change; rather urged on by the spirit of innovation, or popular delusion, or State necessity (as it is falsely caused), it is still power, irresponsible power, against right.” ~ Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story
The right to bear arms:
“The . . . Right of the [citizens] that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defense. . . [This is] the natural right of resistance and self-preservation when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression. . . . [To] vindicate these rights when actually violated or attacked, the [citizens] are entitled, in the first place, to the regular administration and free course of justice in the courts of law; next, to the right of petitioning the [government] for redress of grievances; and lastly, to the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defense.” ~ Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws.
“[S]elf-defense, or self-preservation, is one of the first laws of nature, which no man ever resigned upon entering into society.” ~ Zephaniah Swift.
“[T]he said Constitution [should] be never construed . . . to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.” ~ Samuel Adams.
With regard to who the militia is:
“A militia . . . are in fact the people themselves . . . [and] are for the most part employed at home in their private concerns.” ~ Richard Henry Lee
“Who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people.” George Mason.
I could go on, but I doubt I need to, and my fingers are getting fatigued.
G.K. Chesterton once said, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what’s behind him.”
While I can’t speak for every NRA member or firearm owner, I am willing to bet many would agree if I changed the above quote slightly to read, “We don’t own and train in the proper use of firearms because we hate those in front of us, but because we love what’s behind us, and because we love our country and the freedoms she represents.”
For more information on the NRA’s purpose and history, see https://home.nra.org/about-the-nra/
For the history of and principles behind the Second Amendment, and where I found many of the quotes above (and where they originally came from), I encourage you to buy this book: https://www.amazon.com/Second-Amendment-David-Barton/dp/0925279773/