The NRA is not exactly know for their moderate views on gun control. Traditionally, they have stood firm in their belief that Americans should have the right to bear arms with very few, if any, restrictions. In recent years, they have taken some less contradictory positions, but it seems like their latest policies have reverted back to their unwavering stance.
Will there ever be a compromise between the NRA and organizations who believe in gun control? Only time will tell.
The NRA’s gun-loving history
The National Rifle Association dates all the way back to 1871. Back then, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the organization to promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis after they became dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops.
Of course, a lot has changed since then. The NRA is now known for their staunch opposition to gun control and their donations to politicians who support their agenda. And it’s safe to say they’ve been relatively successful in their ventures to keep all guns and ammo legal.
Domestic violence and gun rights
Proponents of gun control don’t believe that a domestic abuser should be allowed to carry a gun. And in 1996, after a concerted push from Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Congress made it illegal for anyone convicted of domestic abuse to buy a firearm.
But over the last two decades, plenty of shooting deaths have been at the hands of those who were either convicted of domestic violence or who were never officially charged, but should have been. For a variety of reasons, guns are still getting into the wrong hands.
The NRA’s past stance
For a moment, it seemed as if the NRA was on board with the law barring domestic abusers from owning guns. While they tend to be opposed to most restrictions, in 2013, they briefly backed down on the issue. After a decade of successfully blocking a bill in Washington state that would have required alleged domestic abusers to surrender their firearms after being served with a protective order, the NRA agreed to drop its public opposition to it in exchange for a few minor changes.
The move was a drastic departure from its normal strategy, but it wasn’t long before they returned to their old ways.
The latest statements
Unfortunately, the latest position of the NRA on guns and domestic violence is cynical. Some recent state laws, such as Indiana and Tennessee, passed laws stating victims of domestic violence can now carry a handgun without a license for a certain amount of time if they have a protective order against their abusers.
The NRA is in full support of this bill, stating that this type of legislation empowers victims while they are waiting for permit applications to be approved, a process that can take months. And while making domestic violence victims feel safe is very important, the fact that the NRA also doesn’t demand that the abusers be stripped of their gun rights is alarming.
Empowering or naive?
NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch recently declared that real empowerment for women occurs only when they are armed and ready to shoot and kill abusive partners. But this is a dangerous mentality, especially since domestic violence victims have often been controlled and manipulated in many ways by the time they reach the point of leaving or needing a firearm for protection. Expecting a victim to just get a gun and be prepared to use it is naive as best, dangerous at worst.
The NRA and Loesch’s position proves how little they understand about victims of domestic violence.
Should convicted domestic abusers be allowed to carry?
Despite agreeing to a compromise on the original bill, the NRA has never stated that someone convicted of domestic violence shouldn’t be allowed to carry. In fact, they seem to take the opposite stance.
“We don’t need to rush to take away people’s rights just because they made a mistake,” Bradley Gulotta, from Guns Across America, stated. “Not everyone who got in an argument–had a push, had a shove–is going to come back and do more bodily harm or be a danger to other people.”
The NRA’s Tara Mitchell agreed that strengthening laws would take away citizens’ civil rights and is “just not something we can support.”
Will the recent mass shootings make a difference?
We’ve seen an alarming amount of mass shootings in 2017, including the largest one in our country’s history, in Las Vegas. And two of the most recent shootings, the one at the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and the one in Northern California, were committed by men with known domestic violence issues. In fact, Kevin Neal (the California shooter) was not supposed to be able to own guns at all.
As Congress and the American public try to sort through the mess and make amends to our gun laws while addressing the issues of mental health and domestic violence, it’s clear that the NRA isn’t backing down on their positions. It’s also clear that this is a complicated issue that the NRA should really consider revisiting.
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