With Gun Rights Go Responsibilities

No NRAI used to live in Portland, and I remember the Clackamas Town Center being the most festive shopping mall I had ever visited. It had a ice rink where I saw Tonya Harding practice—a big attraction in the early 1990s. So I was shocked to read that there was a shooting rampage at the mall this afternoon. Shocked because it hit uncomfortably close to home, not because I was shocked about yet another mass shooting in our vast bastion of gun owners’ rights. There is, after all, a mass shooting here every five days.

I know: crazy people do crazy things; evil people do evil things; stupid people do stupid things. But it is interesting that this shooting happened on the very day that, “The Seventh Circuit overturned Illinois’ law forbidding concealed-carry of handguns—the last remaining law in the whole country against concealed carry.” Now I know what many of you are thinking, “But these permits are only given out to responsible adults!” My tendency is to say that you ought to tell that to Trayvon Martin, and leave it at that. But for me, it is a little more personal.

I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who are what I would call gun fanatics. They broadly fall into two categories (although there is overlap): hunters and paranoids. I don’t too much dig on hunting, but whatever; some people need more to be content than a fine English translation of Don Quixote; I understand. But the paranoids? They’re dangerous. They really think that their guns are going to keep them safe and they are eager to find (or force) a situation in which they can prove it. Add to this the very common spice of libertarianism, and you end up bitter enders who think they are the last line of freedom from the coming Brown Shirts. I actually share some of their concerns, but given that they think the socialist hellscape has already arrived, I don’t have much faith in their judgement. And that is the primary issue.

If you weed out those people who truly need a gun for their jobs (I’m being liberal here), what you are left with is mostly a bunch of my paranoid friends with concealed carry permits. You know: people like George Zimmerman. Mostly, these people are a bigger threat to themselves than they are to anyone else. But that isn’t the critical issue. I’m all for allowing people to make their own mistakes that harm themselves. But I’m not for allowing their paranoia and negligence to harm 7-year-old boys—for one almost random example.

So I’m willing to grant everything: people shouldn’t be stupid; or evil; or crazy. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.[1] I grant you everything. But clearly there is a problem. If we should keep guns out of the hands of crazy people, there are things we could do. But the NRA opposes this. If we should keep guns out of the hands of evil people, there are things we could do. But the NRA opposes this. If we should keep guns out of the hands of stupid people, there are things we could do. But the NRA opposes this.

As long as gun owners continue to support the wackjob National Rifle Association, then nothing will be done. As long as the media refuse to honestly engage this issue, things will get worse. As long as gun owners refuse to admit there is a problem, people will continue to die unnecessarily. I grant you everything but this: you are culpable.


I do understand the philosophy of the NRA. I even agree with it. But it is an extremist philosophy. It is only a small group that should constantly be pushing the envelope of acceptable law. When a group as big as the NRA is this extreme, we get bad policy. And hey, we have bad policy. The NRA members can change this because they are much more reasonable than the group itself. If you are a member, ask yourself: do I know what the NRA is doing with the money I send it. It may well shock you.

[1] Frankly, guns don’t kill people; bullets kill people; I don’t really have a problem with guns; it’s the bullets that are a menace.

This entry was posted in Politics by Frank Moraes. Bookmark the permalink.

About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “With Gun Rights Go Responsibilities

  1. i grew up around guns and hunting and fishing, all those outdoor things. There is actually a lot to be said about hunting that people, and liberals are especially guilty, just don’t understand. In our age of industrial meat farming, taking an animal from its natural environment for food is far more humane than how the average beef patty is produced. I believe that animals are happiest in their natural environments, and if you eat meat it is hypocritical to be against hunting but for modern cattle "ranching" (I’m not accusing you of this, just saying). Michael Pollan’s books are worth reading. Hunter’s also pay for a large share of conservation efforts when they pay for tags and stamps to hunt. Hunting is also an important part of some people’s culture, something passed down from parent to child.

    The thing I don’t get is, when I visit some of my family who are into hunting and guns, in their magazines and NRA literature they are absolutely paranoid about losing gun rights. I swear leading up to the election I read no less than 3 op/ed where they were sure Obama was gonna take away their guns. And that was just flipping through a stack of recent magazines, Their viewpoint is that their second amendment rights are under attack and giving any ground is unacceptable. You should read some of their fundraising letters, and how they defend the shooter of young Treyvon. Unbelievable.

  2. @Andy – I know you’re not attacking me, but I still feel I have to defend myself. I do not have a problem with hunting for food. However, I have known a lot of hunters. Even the ones who did go to the expense of having animals slaughtered were still doing it for sport. I know that there are people who really do depend upon hunting for food, I just think they are a small group and not the core membership of NRA.

    The main thing is that I don’t really care what people do and I am most certainly not anti-gun. Where this article comes from is my frustration that NRA [i]members[/i] are pretty reasonable in their policy whereas the NRA itself is extreme. It is very much like the Republican Party: the membership is against cuts to Medicare and for raising the top tax bracket but the Party is not. I think this is a general problem with conservatives: they will follow any group that is bellicose enough regardless of their policies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *