I have some very disappointing news for some of the more-virulent foes of sane gun-control legislation.
If you’re what the National Rifle Association loves to call a “law-abiding American citizen,” no one is going to take away your guns.
Not the federal government.
Not the state government.
Not the local government.
Not the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard.
Not the United Nations.
Not the zombies.
Well, OK, I can’t absolutely guarantee what zombies might do, but they move so slowly, you shouldn’t have much trouble keeping them from your firearms.
Now, all this won’t matter much to the vast majority of responsible gun owners who wear polyester and cotton hats rather than those made out of aluminum foil.
The average gun owner who appreciates a heritage passed down from generation-to-generation, the hunter who does a public service by shooting deer in season that would otherwise cause injury by ending up on a car bumper or windshield, the citizens who balance their desire to defend themselves and their property with a deep respect for gun safety won’t be the least disappointed that no one is coming for their weapons.
As for those who almost seem to be rooting for a shoot-’em-up national insurrection and have been buying into NRA propaganda all these years, I’m really sorry to break the sad news that your guns are safe from confiscation. That must be a terrible blow to everyone who has been fearfully dipping into the egg-and-milk money to purchase expensive weaponry and buy more than enough bullets to conquer North Korea.
The NRA used to be a much more mainstream organization, concentrating on gun-safety classes, police training, hunting and self-defense activities. While it’s still doing all those things, it has morphed into an uncompromising opponent of any and all government efforts to reduce gun violence and has received millions of dollars from major gun manufacturers.
In return, the NRA has led the “they’re coming for our guns” paranoia that started hitting its stride when Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992.
Want to know how many guns belonging to “law-abiding Americans” were confiscated during the eight years Clinton was president?
Zero. None. Zilch.
If the NRA had its adherents worked up over Clinton, it was nothing compared to when Barack Obama became president.
According to the conservative website cnsnews.com, citing FBI statistics, 65,376,373 background checks for firearm purchases have been completed since Obama’s first full month in office.
That’s 91.1 percent higher than President George W. Bush’s first-term total of 34,214,066.
Why? Because the NRA and similar “they’ll have to take my gun from my cold, dead hand” alarmists have been lying to anyone who would listen.
Want to know how many guns belonging to “law-abiding Americans” have been confiscated while Barack Obama has been president?
Again: Zero. None. Zilch.
Why am I bringing this up now? Well, for starters, as of Wednesday morning, just since the Dec. 14 Newtown tragedy when 26 “law-abiding Americans,” including 20 “law-abiding” little children, were gunned down by a maniac using an assault rifle, 1,774 Americans have lost their lives to gun violence.
What happened in Newtown made me physically sick to my stomach. I had thought that as someone who has been in the newspaper business for more than 40 years, I had grown a thick emotional shell in dealing with the daily reporting of human tragedy.
Newtown showed me I was mistaken.
A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a couple of very conservative friends (yes, I have some conservative friends). When I asked them about why anyone might need a rifle that can fire 30 rounds without requiring reloading, why anyone other than a collector might require an assault weapon, or why closing the gun show loophole is a bad idea, they kept coming back with the same answer.
While legislation concerning those things might make sense, they were against it because it would be a “slippery slope” leading to the government coming into people’s houses and taking away their guns.
Those are two very nice guys, smart guys for whom I have an enormous amount of respect. But I had to tell them the bad news.
No matter how slippery the imaginary slope, the “jack-booted government thugs” radical NRA President Wayne LaPierre referred to in a 1995 fundraising letter won’t be showing up at their houses.
The NRA and the gun manufacturers have been playing my friends and those like them for suckers all these years.
How very disappointing.
Sam Pollak is the editor of The Daily Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/sampollak.