5 Issues That Divide Gun Owners and NRA Leadership
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Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, is a con man. He has spent decades enriching himself, his fellow NRA executives and the organization’s board members by doing what he does best: shamelessly mainstreaming conspiracy theories that lead an increasingly paranoid subset of Americans ( the percent of households owing guns has declined dramatically over the past generation) to arm themselves to the teeth, while ensuring any laws that might prevent the horrifying tragedy that occurred in Aurora, Colorado Friday morning are unable to make it through Congress.
LaPierre talks of gun confiscation being just around the corner, when he knows no such thing would ever happen in the United States. The irredeemably violent make good customers too, don't you know? So whether the NRA is working to restore gun rights to violent felons, protect the ability of terrorists, drug kingpins and serial domestic abusers to purchase high-capacity clips at gun shows, or fighting for military style weapons to be available to the Jared Loughners, John Patrick Bedells and James Holmes’ of the world, you can bet that whatever comes out of LaPierre's mouth, his only interest is protecting the real clients of today’s NRA: arms dealers.
This is made crystal-clear by the fact that the NRA’s own membership, many of whom joined only because of an outdated understanding of what the leadership of this organization actually stands for, agree with most Americans that our gun laws should protect our families, and not the financial interests of a clique of craven elites.
Here are five key issues that divide the LaPierres at the top of the NRA food chain from their 3 million (or 4 million, depending upon the press release that day) members:
1. Gun Show Loophole
Currently, in over 30 states, one can walk into a local gun show and purchase a weapon from a “private seller,” who does not have to conduct any kind of background check. For example, a .50 caliber sniper rifle, which can take down a helicopter. The NRA has fought to block any and all efforts to pass a federal law closing this infamous gun show loophole, as well as any efforts in the states. (But remember, they are anti-crime!)
Timothy McVeigh was once one of these “private sellers” on the gun-show circuit, and everyone from the Columbine killers to members of Hezbollah have obtained firearms this way. Not surprisingly, just like most other sentient beings (including 85% of gun owners not in the NRA), 69% of NRA members, when polled by conservative Republican Frank Luntz, think this loophole should be closed.
2. Terror Gap
If you are put on the U.S. terror watch list you cannot board an airplane. You can, however, still purchase guns and explosives. According to the Government Accountability Office, “From February 2004 through February 2010, 1,228 individuals on the watch list underwent background checks to purchase firearms or explosives; 1,119, or 91 percent, of these transactions were approved."
NRA members understand this even if their leadership stubbornly tries to protect the gun-ownership rights of terrorists (but they’re patriots, I tell you!). Eighty-two percent of NRA members think this gap should be closed.
3. Tiahrt Amendments
Named in honor of all-around clod, former Kansas Republican Congressman Todd Tiahrt, this is part of the NRA’s constant effort to hamper, harass and harangue any government effort to get to the bottom of how guns came to be used in a crime. These amendments, attached to federal spending bills, do their best to severely limit law enforcement's ability to access, use and share data that helps them enforce federal, state and local gun laws.