GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 24, 2012

Letter: Calling out the NRA's greed, hypocrisy


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

As I watched the National Rifle Association’s press conference a week after the slaughter of 20 precious little kids and six loving teachers in Newtown, Conn., I couldn’t decide what was more offensive — Wayne LaPierre’s arrogance or his hypocrisy.

It is time to call the National Rifle Association out on both.

Turning our schools into armed camps is not the solution to the kind of violence we witnessed on Dec. 14. Enacting sensible gun safety laws that take military style assault weapons and hand guns that can pump out 50bullets a minute out of the hands of civilians, accompanied by throrough background checks , and the closing of the “gun show loophole,” are the things that will make us all safer.

We also need to face the fact that Wayne LaPierre does not head a grassroots organization fighting to protect the rights of hunters or people who want to own a gun for self defense. The NRA is a high-powered lobbying group that is more concerned about the profits of its gun manufacturingclients than it is the Second Amendment rights of duck hunters in a blind on the Essex salt marsh.

The NRA opposes the assault weapons ban not on genuine constitutional principles, but on economic ones. Since the assault weapons ban was repealed in 2004, manufacturers of such weapons have reaped billions in profits via the sales of what a Connecticut state trooper, the day after the Newtown massacre, accurately described as “people hunters.”

People may forget the gun known as the “Bushmaster,” the one used by the Connecticut shooter to mow down a classroom full of first graders, was also used by the D.C. area snipers a decade ago when they went “people hunting” for sport. That model weapon alone earned its manufacturer over a billion dollars in profits since the assault weapons ban was repealed in 2004, and that company is a big donor to the NRA.

The political leadership of the NRA revs up the most fringe, right wing, paranoid elements in American society with bizarre conspiracy theories about President Obama working secretly with the U.N. to disarm the American citizenry in preparation for the imposition of a one world government. It is utter hogwash, especially when one considers President Obama, much to the chagrin of gun safety advocates, not long ago signed off on legislation that allowed private citizens to legally carry guns on Amtrak trains and in our national parks for the first time ever.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein will soon introduce legislation that seeks to reinstate the assault weapons ban. Cape Anners should tell John Kerry, Elizabeth Warren, John Tierney, and the White House they expect them all to wholeheartedly support that legislation. By the way, kudos to outgoing Senator Scott Brown for being the first and only GOP senator to come out in support of a renewed assault weapons ban.

Sen. Feinstein’s legislation will not be retroactive, but prospective; meaning that people who bought assault weapons legally after the repeal in 2004 will be able to keep them. No federal agents, or “One World Government”, jack booted, storm troopers, will be coming to take those guns away, despite what the NRA and crackpots like Glen Beck tell their most gullible and paranoid members and groupies. The legislation only seeks to prevent the sale of such “people hunters” in the future.

It will not eliminate all gun violence to be sure, and no one is claiming that it will. But it will be a big first step in putting an end to the kinds of wholesale massacres of innocent people that have become all too common in recent years.

Surely, we owe it to the memories of so many victims of these massacres — especially the little kids in Newtown — to do all we can to bring that goal to fruition.

MICHAEL COOK

Gloucester and Vieques, Puerto Rico