Christians and the NRA

The AR-15 assault weapon used by Aurora, Colo., shooter James Holmes.

There’s thought among certain conservative circles – it lurks in the feverish swamps of chain emails alongside the notion of barack Obama’s secret Muslim identity and the upcoming court decision to turn America over to sharia law – that President Obama is just waiting until his second term, when he no longer has to worry about re-election, to spring his extreme anti-gun agenda on the country.

This is not so secretly encouraged by the leaders of the National Rifle Association, who have released documents with subtle titles such as, “Obama’s Secret Plan to Destroy the Second Amendment by 2016.”

If last night’s debate told us anything, it’s that gun owners don’t have to worry; Obama isn’t going to do anything to stem the rising tide of violence the NRA has done so much to promote.

Consider this:

  • An August poll conducted by CNN found 57 percent of respondents support a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of semiautomatic assault weapons.
  • In June 2011, 62 percent of respondents to a Time magazine poll said they supported a federal ban on assault weapons.
  • A January 2011 New York Times/CBS found that 54 percent of gun-owning households support an assault-weapons ban.

So banning assault weapons – semiautomatic weapons used by the military and law enforcement with little to no practical use except to mow down people as quickly as possible – is broadly popular, even among gun owners, who presumably value the 2nd Amendment.

Further, assault weapons and other items, such as extended clips for handguns, are frequently used in mass shootings, such as the ones in Tucson, Ariz., and Aurora, Colo. Perhaps the shooters would have found some way to acquire them anyway, but it would certainly have been harder, taken longer and cost more money – and those barriers would undoubtedly turn some potential shooters away from using them.

So banning semiautomatic assault weapons and similar accessories is not only broadly popular, but also it is likely to save lives. No brainer, right? Apparently not. Here are the presidential candidates’ responses last night to an unexpected question about gun control in the wake of the series of mass shootings we have seen in recent years:

[M]y belief is that A., we have to enforce the laws we’ve already got, make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill. We’ve done a much better job in terms of background checks, but we’ve got more to do when it comes to enforcement. …

[W]hat I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced, but part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence, because frankly, in my hometown of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence, and they’re not using AK-47s, they’re using cheap handguns. …

And so what I want is a comprehensive strategy. Part of it is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. But part of it is also going deeper and seeing if we can get into these communities and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur.

That’s pretty weak sauce from President Obama, but it’s downright authoritarian compared to Romney’s response:

I’m not in favor of new pieces of legislation on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal. We of course don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons.

There you go. First, Romney is incorrect – fully automatic weapons are in fact legal to own in the United States, though their purchase is tightly regulated.

But the bigger problem is the ground on which this discussion is taking place. Romney refuses to even discuss new legislation banning assault weapons, and Obama pays it the briefest of lip service – even though such legislation is popular and would save lives. (Of course, if he were really planning to secretly ban all guns by 2016, that’s exactly what you’d expect he’d do!!!!111!!1)

Some of this is because our society remains ensnared in a culture of violence and bloodsport that idolizes rather than condemns the machinery that makes such violence possible. But in this particular case, where a majority of our society actually supports stricter controls on this sort of weaponry, the blame can be laid at the feet of the NRA.

The NRA takes credit for both the Republican revolution of 1994 and Al Gore’s narrow defeat in 2000. Democrats have apparently bought into this idea, which is why they refuse to publicly support even popular, life-saving legislation such as a renewal of the assault weapons ban in place from 1994-2004. Gun control apparently has become politically toxic.

Often when I discuss politics on here, I cast it in terms of morality and compassion. What does a moral, compassionate society look like, and how do we as Christians work to achieve that? I firmly believe one way is quit supporting organizations whose positions are morally repugnant and uncompassionate. The NRA is one such organization. Their work to neuter the debate about sensible gun-control laws in our society has led to the deaths of hundreds of people at the hands of killers holding easily obtainable assault weapons.

My question is: Why are so many Christians OK with that?

8 thoughts on “Christians and the NRA”

  1. There is no such thing as an “assault weapon” and handguns don’t use clips. If you can’t even get the most basic firearms facts right, why on Earth do you think you’re qualified to make gun laws?

    One-fourth of murdered women are killed by their current or former male partner. Murder by men is the leading cause of death for pregnant women. With rare exception, every single mass shooter on record has been a man, and often they are targeting women (see the recent Brookfield shooting). Guns are not the problem. Men are the problem.

    1. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be sarcastic or not.

      As for the definition of “assault weapon,” I direct you to this link: It’s a political term, yes, but it has a definition, and saying “there is no such thing” is simply denying the common use of words.

      As for extended clips, perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the sad story of the Tucson shooting, in which Jared Loughner did not need to reload as quickly as he would otherwise have because of an “extended ammunition magazine” he had attached to his Glock handgun. The magazine had previously been banned under the 1994 assault weapons (that phrase again) ban. You can read more here:

      As for your final point, I would note something else every single mass shooter has had in common: A gun.

      1. The first poster was being pedantic. A clip is part of a gun’s magazine; it’s not the magazine itself.

        Romney is partly mistaken. Fully-automatic weapons aren’t illegal; just highly restricted. Like suppressors. You can find gun ranges that will let you fire machine guns, Uzis, and other assorted full-auto weapons, and Hollywood uses all sorts of weapons that are very difficult for the average person to get.

      2. Paul – you are correct, by definition a mass shooter uses a gun. However, not necessarily mass murderers. In the middle east – most use bombs. In this country, the worst mass murderers used bombs or aircraft. Even the school mass murderer in Bath Michigan used bombs. Guns are a defense to protect us when either the police are late in arriving or when they or the government are the perpetrators. For example – see Russia, China, Germany, and colonial America. Please study your history and the Bible, Thank you!

    2. “…why on Earth do you think you’re qualified to make gun laws?”

      Whatever semantic tricks you are employing, for the sake of argument, I will stipulate that, fine, plenty of people, including me, don’t know a whole lot of details about how firearms work.

      This line of argument is, of course, complete BS. Knowledge of how firearms work and/or being able to explain precise definitions has nothing to do with it. The qualification to make gun laws is to be elected to a legislative body, which requires support from voters. Therefore, we all get to have input on gun laws, even those who “can’t even get the most basic firearms facts right.”

      The larger and more important point is that we all get to weigh in on gun laws because even those people who know nothing about how to operate firearms are subject to being shot by crazy (or worse, sane) people who, because of the political culture in the USA, are allowed by the law to have guns when they really should not.

      Look, if we are somehow able to function in a society that has restrictions on the 1st Amendment, then we ought to be okay with coming up with some reasonable restrictions on the 2nd.

  2. “Why would anyone want to own a Semiautomatic Assault-Type Weapon(TM)?”

    Same reason someone would own a 180mph Maserati when speed limits top out at 70.

    I consider assault stuff to be the HOTRODS of firearms. And you’ll always have hotrod buffs.

  3. Headless – for protection from those who have those weapons, For example bad guys, bad or corrupt police or government, enemies of our country.

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