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Is NRA grip on Congress loosening?

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Message Martha Rosenberg
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If the only tool you have is a hammer, they say, everything will look like a nail.

And if the only tool you have is a gun, everyone will look like a gun grabber.

Who can forget the NRA's depiction of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents as gun grabbing "jack booted thugs" ten years ago? It cost them the membership of George H. W. Bush and other prominent members.

"To attack Secret Service agents or ATF people or any government law enforcement people as...wanting to attack law-abiding citizens is a vicious slander on good people," wrote Bush in his resignation letter. 1

Two years ago, it was the Sierra Club who were gun grabbers as the NRA refused an invitation to work with them on the shared goal of habitat conservation.

"If the Sierra Club's endorsed candidates had their way, private ownership of firearms would be banned," explained NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. 2

Last summer it was delegates from the UN small arms conference who were going to grab NRA guns--some time after leaving Darfur and before going to Lebanon.

And a few weeks later the gun grabbers were a rival gun organization, the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA)--"a front group that claims pro-gun and prohunting credentials, despite longstanding and current ties to a multitude of gun-ban groups," said NRA's Christopher Cox. 3

Especially since AHSA was eyeing the estimated 77 to 90 million US gun owners who aren't NRA members. (NRA membership hovers at three to four million.) 4

Some NRA members and would be members are fed up with the gun grabbing alarmism-cum-paranoia.

"There is currently no movement within the Democratic Party to do anything with respect to gun control," wrote one commentator after an article about the AHSA on the Washington Monthly web site. "Yet the NRA bombards its members with constant, hysterical messages that the Democrats are going to take their guns away. Why tell that lie?"

"The NRA is and for many years has been nothing more than a Republican lobbying organization that [is] using its members' dues money to promote the GOP," wrote another commentator. "When you have a core membership that somehow equates gun ownership with a macho self sufficient image, they will believe anything. Tell them the Democrats want to take their guns and nullify their 'God given constitutional right' and they flock to the polls."

Columnists have also heard wolf cried too many times.

"I have no deep convictions on the fractious gun issue other than I favor tough regulation of handguns and want assault rifles limited to military use," writes gun owner and sportsman Alan Guebert in the Prairie Star. 5

"I do, however, despise gun advocacy groups who preach fear over fact--gun bans-- to sway elections. Their standard tactic is sweeping incrementalism: 'If they ban assault rifles today, they'll ban BB guns tomorrow.'

That's unsupportable hogwash. Forty years of gun legislation hasn't restrained one child's BB trigger finger or banned one true sporting gun."

And the well known outdoor writer Pat Wray--a Sierra Club sympathizer according to his critics?

"AHSA appears to be the answer to the prayers of a lot of shooters and gun owners who have become disillusioned with the NRA and their fear mongering, we're-surrounded-by-enemies-so-hurry-up-and-send-us-money approach to the gun ownership issue," he writes. 6

The AHSA is "at least willing to talk to law enforcement agencies and lawmakers about ways to limit gun violence while protecting our rights to own and use firearms for legitimate purposes. Communication, cooperation, compromise. What concepts!"

One writer even dares to question what happens when the gun grabber is a wife and the gun grabbing is an order or protection.

Domestic violence takes "the glamour out of the crime scene that pro-gun activists love to describe," writes Joan Burbick, author of the recently published Gun Show Nation. "Husbands and wives shooting it out in the living room [doesn't] have the same appeal as the brave homeowner gunning down a crazed burglar. And what about all those ad campaigns to get me to buy guns? The magazine and book tales of masked young predators [generate] gun sales. How do you advertise buying guns when the criminal [is] an exhusband, a boyfriend, or a guy you dated a couple of weeks ago?"

As the NRA loses its ability to scare critics into silence, many are hoping its reign of terror is over.

Because what needs to be pried out of its cold, dead hands is not a gun but Congress.

1 Inside the NRA: Armed and Dangerous Jack Anderson 1996
2. "OWAA loyalty to Sierra Club forces NRA to withdraw support"
3 "Anti-Gunners Don Camo As Elections Loom" Aug 16, 2006
4 "Pro Gun, Anti-NRA" Washington Monthly June 18, 2006 Christina Larson
5 "Gunning for the Rural Vote" Prairie Star Montana Ag newspaper October 25, 2006
6 "A small pebble making big waves" Corvallis Gazette-Times July 2, 2006
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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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