Letter: Hidden Versus Real Agendas

To the Editor:

If I disagree with someone, I generally try to give that person the benefit of the doubt and accept what they have to say at face value. That doesn’t seem to be the approach of the National Rifle Association.

After the Newtown massacre, the NRA warned that individuals wanting to institute new gun-safety provisions had a hidden agenda. The implication is that I, by supporting new gun-safety provisions, actually want to undermine the Second Amendment and outlaw all guns. I got a lesson in what the Second Amendment means to the NRA. Listening to VPR’s Vermont Edition, I was amazed to hear a caller declare that he considered himself foremost a Vermont citizen, then an American citizen. If buying “assault weapons” became illegal, the caller wanted to know, how would people exercise their right to defend themselves against tyranny?

I was not sure what century he was living in, but he should realize that he is already outgunned (and it is a stretch to think that the founding fathers should be taken so literally). Rather than hunkering down with his arsenal of guns and being so concerned about his Second Amendment rights, he needs to engage the larger community and make sure his other individual rights are being protected. Hitler was a successful and brutal dictator because he was able to pass laws that took away the rights of German Jews, not their guns.

The NRA was formed in 1871 with the stated goal that it would “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.” It was only in 1975 when the NRA formed its political lobby, the Institute for Legislative Action. Unfortunately, the NRA has lost its way. Today, it fuels paranoia and is itself fueled by the wallet of gun manufacturers.

Write your legislators. Tell them to enact rational gun safety legislation, which includes: a ban on “assault” weapons; universal background checks; making gun trafficking a federal offense. And for old time’s sake, take an NRA gun safety course and get a license.

Paul Manganiello