Letter to Editor: For A Sane Gun Policy; America’s Ready

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A recent Quinnipiac Poll conducted in February this year revealed that American voters support stricter gun controls by a 66 to a 31 majority, the highest level it’s ever been. An 83 to 14 percent majority supports mandatory waiting periods; a 67 to 29 percent supports a ban on assault rifles and an almost 75 to 15 percent of Americans feels congress needs to do more to reduce gun violence.

If these figures are remotely indicative of our present situation, why is congress so intimidated by the gun lobby? The majority of Americans are for stricter gun controls and the country is behind a sane gun policy, so where’s the hang up?

George Stephanopoulos, president Clinton’s then spokesperson, once offered this thought, what he called “one small vote for the NRA.” He said of the organization that its members diligently call their congressmen, or write to them, vote regularly, are generous contributors to the organization and aggressively stand up for what they believe. In an ironic way, he offered the NRA member as a profile of a democracy’s model citizen. If that’s true of its membership majority, Stephanopoulos may be on to something significant.

The difficulty getting sane gun laws may lie less with the NRA than with a passive and disorganized electorate that feels outraged but hasn’t focused the outrage into well-organized political muscle.

I was surprised to learn that few actual candidates are bankrolled by the NRA. Instead, they strategically pour millions into negative ads against any unsympathetic candidates they identify.

According to Sunday’s New York Times of 2/25, “It’s really not the contributions,” said Cleta Mitchell, a former N.R.A. board member. “It’s the ability of the N.R.A. to tell its members: Here’s who’s good on the Second Amendment.”
“Far more than any check the N.R.A. could write, it is this mobilization operation that has made the organization such a challenging adversary for Democrats and gun control.”

The NRA also gains political potency by presenting a single focused agenda with an unambiguous message- great for sound bites: you’re safer owning a gun, and your government wants to take them away. They project a dominoes theory – let the government take our assault rifles away, and then they’ll take our shotguns and pistols, next.

Gun safety advocates clearly have the numbers. Now we need to seize the moment and get organized.

George Merrill
St. Michaels

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Letters to Editor

  1. Deirdre LaMotte says:

    The NRA stifles the speech of 95% of Americans who want gun regulations.They claim to represent 5 million gun owners, 1.5 percent of the population, and refuse any discussion on sensible regulations. The leadership,LaPierre and Loesch, are nothing more than spokespersons for the killing industry.

    These teens are going to change this and corporate America will follow. Everyone: your obligation is to vote all NRA sycophants out of office this year! Ban all weapons of war for anyone not serving in the military.

  2. Gren Whitman says:

    Even though little — if anything at all — can presently be accomplished at the federal level, working at the state level is a different story, with great chances for success.
    In Maryland, which outlawed military-purposed semi-automatics (AR-15s, etc.) in 2013, there’s a bill to prohibit so-called bump stocks and other rapid fire trigger activators that make a semi-automatic fully automatic. There’s a bill to eliminate the illegal transfers of firearms, a bill to eliminate the Handgun Permit Review Board (which OKs too many concealed-carry permits), and a bill to take firearms away from anyone convicted of domestic violence. There are also a number of “bad bills” to testify against, bills introduced by pro-gunners and supported by NRA lobbyists that basically would relax our state’s sensible firearms regulations.
    Although petitioning Congress is almost pointless now, action in Annapolis is highly important.

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