For those of you who have followed my writing for a while, it’s no secret that I am a white liberal gun owner who lives in the South. I owned my first gun at a very early age, as did many other people in the rural part of Virginia where I grew up. This may seem alien to people who have grown up in other areas and have had different life experiences, and I completely understand the aversion of many folks on the left when it comes to gun culture.
When you live in the country, guns are a part of life. Here in Louisiana, there are many gun shops and hunting is a big part of the culture. Every fall, people dust off their guns and go hunting for deer and ducks. Again, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I understand.
I’m telling you this because there is a difference between gun ownership for recreational purposes, and the paranoid gun culture of the NRA – or Larry Pratt’s “Gun Owners of America” which is even more radical in their ideology than the NRA.
Via The Southern Poverty Law Center:
Larry Pratt stands at the intersection of guns and Jesus, lobbying for absolutely unrestricted distribution of firearms while advocating a theocratic society based upon Old Testament civil and religious laws. A pivotal figure in the rise of right-wing militia, or “Patriot,” groups, he spoke at the notorious 1992 “Gathering of Christian Men” in Estes Park, Colo., where 160 neo-Nazis, Klan members, anti-Semitic Christian Identity adherents and others arguably laid the groundwork for the militia movement that would explode in 1994. He believes that white Christians must arm themselves for self-protection in the inevitable social implosions and riots that are soon to come. (Source)
This insane and racist ideology is not shared by myself or most of the gun owners I know. The overwhelming majority of Americans have no problem with background checks for all firearms sales, as polls have shown. Background checks have been decried by the likes of Larry Pratt and the NRA as an infringement of Second Amendment rights, but they’re simply a way of ensuring that a purchaser has not had their constitutional rights suspended or revoked for being mentally ill or having committed a disqualifying crime.
Qualified citizens of the United States have a right to own firearms under the Second Amendment, and this was written in the majority opinion for the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, by the extremely conservative justice Antonin Scalia.
The ruling held that belonging to a militia wasn’t a precondition for gun ownership, and that private citizens could not be barred from possessing firearms for purposes like self-defense. What the ruling did not prohibit is requirements like universal background checks or licensing, neither of which prohibit a law-abiding person from their right to own a gun under the Second Amendment.
Gun fanatics repeatedly charge that all gun safety advocates want is to completely ban guns, which is not only false, but it is logistically impossible. Gun lobby spokesmen like Wayne LaPierre and Larry Pratt repeat this rhetoric because they know it will rally their misinformed followers and result in more sales to gun fanatics in a country that continues to be less interested in owning firearms.
Larry Pratt brought his argument to NPR’s “On Point” with Tom Ashbrook today, and was countered by Everytown for Gun Safety‘s Shannon Watts. Throughout the episode, Pratt repeated anecdotal accounts and cherry-picked data to support his argument, in which he accidentally admitted that the gun show loophole does exist.
Responsible gun owners, many conservatives included, want to preserve our country’s tradition of firearms without allowing any criminal, domestic abuser, or mentally ill person to get their hands on a gun with no questions asked. Unfortunately, there is a strong lobby against any sort of regulations on the behalf of the NRA and others.
The gun lobby knows that they cannot convince liberals to accept their ideology through blatant sources such as the NRA, so they use militia-supporting organizations like Cop Block which has published articles like “When Should You Shoot A Cop” to trick the left into supporting their message.
Despite what Cop Block, the NRA and Larry Pratt may say, you can be a gun owner and support sensible restrictions. As I said earlier, background checks are not an infringement on Second Amendment rights. To the contrary, they protect those of us who own guns – but the gun lobby is spending millions to convince you otherwise.
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