Yes, you saw it right. The NRA and other similar organizations are a nuisance to the country. As this editorial in the New York Times today points out, " Bullets are flying on city streets, but the vital work of limiting gun use has become a cat-and-mouse game. Beleaguered citizens deserve better from both sides." Perhaps the Washington D.C. and Chicago gun bans were unreasonable restrictions on gun ownership in the respective cities. But why did these cities pass these laws? I'm quite sure it was not because they wanted to punish anyone or keep people unsafe in their homes. The cities who passed these laws years ago honestly believed that the bans on guns in homes would keep their citizens safer from the epidemic of shootings and would save lives. As it turns out, it's hard to know whether that turned out to be true. The problem with such local gun laws is that if neighboring cities and neighboring states don't have similar laws, the guns will come from across the border or a few miles down the road. We probably will never know whether these gun bans saved some people from taking their own life with a gun or whether it prevented some domestic shootings. Yes, these incidents can happen with other types of weapons, but since guns are the most lethal and the quickest, one could argue that they lead to more suicides and domestic shootings.
So what about the gun lobby as a nuisance idea? Those in the NRA, the Gun Owners of America and other similar organizations are already poised to challenge every reasonable gun law "on the books." In making this argument, the logic is turned upside down. One of the frequently heard arguments is that if we would only enforce the laws already "on the books" we wouldn't need any new ones. Now the effective laws on the books will be challenged because of the recent Heller and McDonald Supreme Court case decisions. In my letter to the editor in yesterday's Duluth News Tribune, I reasoned why this should not happen. The Supreme Court did not reject all gun laws "on the books." Rather, it was made clear that reasonable restrictions on who should have guns, where they may be carried and other such laws do not violate the Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms". Since the "well regulated militia" section of the Second Amendment is usually ignored, it is important to remember that our founding fathers recognized that regulations were a good idea for deadly weapons, no matter where they are or who has them.
So the nuisance law suits and other challenges to reasonable laws will begin. In most cases, they will not win, as they have not yet after the Heller decision. But it will be a nuisance to law makers, judges, juries and lawyers to spend time on these type of challenges. They will cost taxpayers money desperately needed for other things. The challenge to the NRA is to prove that the majority of people actually do want guns everywhere and carried by anyone into places normally seen as unnecessary for self protection. I don't know about you, but as I head off to church this morning, I do not feel unsafe without guns in the sanctuary. In fact, my church has posted a special sign at the entrance to the parking lot. It says: " Blessed are the peacemakers. Firearms are prohibited on this sacred ground." These are the laws that will be challenged- the ability of churches and places of business to decide if they want guns on the premises; the posting of the actual signs; the ability of judges to order that domestic abusers should have their guns taken from them; the ability of public colleges and universities to keep guns off of their campuses.... you get the picture.
It has not yet been shown that more guns make us safer- particularly in the places where they are still prohibited. Those places are becoming fewer and farther between. I don't live in a world where I need a gun everywhere I go. My world must be totally different from that of the people who fear for their lives in the grocery store. Actually, the majority of Americans agree with me that reasonable restrictions on guns should apply. But, of course, as I have written many times before, the NRA has won the messaging battle. Their rhetoric has become the mantra and the commonly held views of many in our country. They make more noise and they have more money. But they don't have the majority opinion of people who, when presented with types of reasonable restrictions, such as requiring background checks on all gun sales at gun shows, agree that is a good idea. It is a good idea, in fact. So my goal, and that of the folks with whom I work and am in contact, is to change that messaging battle and win over the people who count- the ones who make the laws.
So, to that effort, here are some talking points: guns do kill people; the bullets that are shot from the guns kill people every day in large numbers; with rights come responsibilities; no one wants to be shot; a gun in the home is more likely to be used against you or someone you know and love than for self protection; if you have a gun for self protection, keep it safe from children and teens; if a gun is available in a domestic dispute, it's easy to use it; guns and alcohol don't mix; law abiding citizens sometimes kill people with guns in moments of anger, depression, etc.; guns kill innocent people; guns are used more effectively to commit suicide; gun accidents kill children almost every day; permit to carry holders do commit crimes and shootings and have done so more frequently since many states have changed their laws to allow more people to carry; even law enforcement officers miss their targets and they go through frequent trainings; guns are not needed in churches and schools; banning guns is "off the table"; recreational use of guns for hunting, etc. is not being challenged; and at last but not least- I'm against being shot. I think you are, too.