Now that the NRA bosses have exposed themselves as the mass gunman's best friend, President Obama and Congress should move swiftly to get an ATF director in place.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

There the NRA goes again -- siding with the common gang member and drug dealer who wants to use a semi-automatic weapon to wreak havoc in our communities.

Too bad about the bloody, injured, paralyzed, and door-knob-dead bodies. Too bad about the little children who can't play outdoors, or the innocent teens who can't walk their streets alone, for fear of being shot by stray bullets from gang-bangers wielding assault weapons. Too bad about the mamas and the papas who can't afford to live in neighborhoods that aren't flooded with illegal guns, like those the NRA bosses inhabit. Too bad about the schoolchildren, teachers, and workers who are victims of the mentally unstable who easily can get their rapid-fire killing machines from so-called private sellers at gun shows.

Thou shalt not interfere with the Second Amendment rights of "law-abiding" citizens who want AK-47s only to protect hearth and home. (Wink. Wink.)

The NRA bosses should be ashamed, or maybe they should just be honest and rename their organization the National Rogue Association, because here they are, again, going to the mat for mass killers -- this time by waging "strong opposition" to President Obama's nominee to fill the director's post at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Andrew Traver has been tapped to lead the nation's top crime-fighting agency, which hasn't had a director in more than four years. (See our August report about the unprecedented vacancy here.) He is the current ATF chief for the Chicago region -- home to the city where last July 303 people were shot and 33 killed in 31 days.

Traver has served as an adviser to the International Association for Chiefs of Police's (IACP) Gun Violence Reduction Project and called for restrictions on assault weapons. He was successful in coordinating law enforcement efforts to arrest 18 people who bought and traded illegal guns at a shop in Rockford, Ill. "Every illegal firearm removed from the hands of an unlawful possessor represents one or more potential violent crimes that was not and will not be committed," Traver said at the time.

Traver appears to be a law enforcement official who has the public's safety and the nation's security at heart. He also appears to be one whom criminals should fear and law-abiding citizens, including gun owners, should embrace.

So why would the NRA direct its unforgiving wrath toward trying to defeat Traver's nomination for ATF director?

Apparently the gun guys are upset that Traver did a TV interview where he helped demonstrate the lethality of an AK-47, while explaining, "Pull the trigger and you can mow down people." Then Traver added that, "the growing frequency of gang members and drug dealers using heavy caliber military-type weapons" is a problem we should be concerned about.

The NRA bosses don't dispute the AK's murderous capabilities or argue the fact that assault weapons are the mayhem-spreading gun of choice for drug dealers and gang members. Nor do they quarrel with Traver over the notion that stray bullets kill and maim innocent Americans with nauseating regularity.

No, the NRA bosses are all tied up in knots because Traver didn't make it clear enough to the TV audience that a fully automatic weapon (like the one the reporter apparently blasted) can get a few rounds out more quickly than a semi-automatic and is not as readily available to the general public (although they would like it to be).

Yes, amazing, but true. The NRA bosses, who use the cover of law-abiding hunters and gun owners, now seek Traver's scalp over a difference that has little distinction.

Semi-automatics are only a little less deadly than fully automatics. They can blast 106 rounds in less than two minutes. One of these weapons was used by Patrick Purdy in Stockton, California, helped him kill five children and wound 29 others.

The NRA bosses know full well that the semi-automatic military-style Uzi assault pistol used by James Huberty killed 21 people and wounded 19 others at the McDonald's in San Ysidro, CA. And that the TEC-9 assault pistol used by the Columbine killers murdered 12 of their classmates and a teacher.

Yes, Virginia, if you believe in Santa Claus then you'll believe there is a significant difference worth debating between the killing efficiency of a fully automatic assault weapon and a semi-automatic assault weapon. But understand, the finger-twitch variation is not enough to reduce the bloody heaps of bodies that keep piling up in communities across our fruited plains. The National Rogue Association knows that. And so, thankfully, does Andrew Traver.

Now that the NRA bosses have exposed themselves as the mass gunman's best friend, President Obama and Congress should move swiftly to get an ATF director in place. The American public needs an equally passionate and determined friend to counter the NRA's unmasked affection and advocacy for anybody with any gun anywhere.

Click here to let your Senators know you're for a strong ATF and confirmation of Andrew Traver.

Paul Helmke is president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Follow the Brady Campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

Before You Go

Popular in the Community