Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The NRA Agenda

If you're old enough, you, too, heard it growing up: "when guns are outlawed, only criminals will have guns."

And so it was that Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell and National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre squared off on Sunday's Face The Nation (video below), largely over the assault weapons ban, which Congress allowed to expire in 2004.

Referring to the ban as "a totally phony issue"- despite the murder last week of three police officers outside of Pittsburgh by a man armed with an AK-47- LaPierre trotted out the old slippery slope argument: "You're going to ban these semi-autos, and then it's going to be handguns, and then it's going to be pump shotguns..."

But more indicative of the NRA's tactics was LaPierre's remark that "we just need to enforce what we have." The gun mogul was singing a different tune when he recently claimed "Gun-control laws have never, and can never, reduce violent crime.... The 20,000 anti-gun laws already on the books in states, cities, and towns throughout the U.S. too often disarm innocent victims. " LaPierre's support for law enforcement, rather, goes no further than his advocacy of Project Exile, a worthwhile program shifting prosecution of some gun crimes to federal court, where the offender faces a mandatory term of incarceration.

And this is why the NRA typically opposes efforts by state legislatures to enact laws requiring firearms owners to report lost or stolen weapons. (The Repub-controlled state Senate in Pennsylvania has defeated such an effort led by Rendell.) If these laws were common, fewer weapons would end up in the hands of criminals, with fewer opportunities for innocent citizens and police officers to be gunned down. But then if the gun lobby supported this and other legislation intended to restrict possession of firearms to law enforcement and law-abiding, mentally stable individuals, the National Rifle Association's major objective would be thwarted: the circulation of as many firearms to as many people as possible.



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