September 12, 2005

Never Rush Assistance

On Friday the NRA-ILA issued a statement about the forced gun confiscations in New Orleans.

"...But rest assured NRA is monitoring this situation very closely and will address any activity by the government that unduly infringes upon the rights of lawful gun owners at the appropriate time. As we learn more, we will report to our members accordingly." (emphasis added)

For those folks who say the NRA is just hanging back & at the appropriate time will start flinging legal papers left & right, let me remind you that CNN filed a lawsuit within hours of being told their reporters would have limited access to the searches for dead bodies in New Orleans. The lawsuit resulted in a temporary injunction allowing them to send their reporters along with the searchers & ultimately a withdrawal of the order that attempted to bar them from accompanying the search teams.

So if you're wondering I don't buy that the NRA is waiting for the proper moment to file legal papers concerning this. In fact a few NRA members aren't real happy about the NRA's lack of action. For a good example of that read miss Bitter's post entitled Outrage.

As miss Bitter points out, "unduly" is a troubling qualifier. It implies there can be "reasonable" infringement.

But the problem most folks have with the NRA is one of perception. The NRA has a rep, in no small part fostered by anti-gunners, as an organization filled with absolutists. That’s simply not the case. They are a sportsman's & industry organization. If you hunt or sell shotguns they've got your back. Usually. If you go around talking about automatics for the people they tend to remember other more pressing engagements. Generally they don't seem to be inclined to support repeals of existing gun control laws. They have close ties to the law enforcement community (visit their homepage & scroll down to see the "Law Enforcement" section) & they support vigorously enforcing every gun control law on the books whether or not those laws comply with applicable constitutions. I'm no fan of the NRA as can be seen by the NRA category on this site & on my old one. & I should point out's NRA Gripes page.

So I am not surprised that the NRA hasn't been "Johnny on the ball" with the gun confiscations in New Orleans, especially since that while a lot of folks remember Heston's "...from my cold, dead hands" line (while holding up a flintlock) they've also been known to say that honest folks would turn them in if ordered to do so (in that case the object in question was an SKS).

The NRA, with all its legal might, should have filed injunctions the second Compass &/or Nagin announced their plans for forced civilian disarmament/looter protection. Since CNN did it within hours of being told their reporters couldn't catch a ride with the search teams I don't see why the NRA (or some other gun owners' organization) couldn't have done it by today. But that's assuming that the NRA is opposed to outright bans.

Now to be fair they pulled their plans to hold a convention in Columbus, Ohio because an "assault weapons" ban was enacted there, so it would seem that some bans aren't okay in their eyes. But perhaps, just perhaps, they don't view the confiscations of arms in an emergency zone as an "undue" infringement? Or maybe they just don't want to take on the law enforcement crowd in this situation? Their motives could be many, or it could simply be that they don't think they could accomplish anything. They don't have much confidence in the courts (& neither do I) & they have often turned down opportunities to fight court battles because they claim it's strategically unwise. This has led some folks to saying that The NRA is to the 2nd amendment as H&R Block is to the 16th, & I cannot totally disagree with them.

The NRA is a good organization for teaching & promoting firearms safety. They're also good (though not perfect) at promoting the shooting sports. They have never been great at defending Rights, even the Right to arms. They've had some success here & there, but overall they've never been uncomfortable with certain levels of gun control.

The NRA may move on this, but I doubt it will be soon & I doubt it will be anything timely. I expect they'll back civil actions against the cops who have been stealing folks guns in New Orleans, though I'm not sure to what degree they'll provide assistance. I could be wrong & they may do something that surprises me, but that's just it; anything meaningful & timely would surprise me.

I stopped looking at them as an organization filled with Absolutists a long time ago. If you do as well then maybe their actions will make a little more sense. Maybe not. In any case if you're still a member it won't hurt to raise hell with your local reps & as why they have issued such a timid response. If you get any sort of reply let me know, though don't be surprised if it's not worded any stronger than their press release from Friday.

Posted by Publicola at September 12, 2005 03:06 PM | TrackBack

On the bright side it appears that they are lumbering into action now, from their Monday release. They may be slow to act, and quick to stop acting, but they are LARGE.

Posted by: EgregiousCharles at September 13, 2005 08:06 AM
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