The Aurora Shooting and the Snake Oil Peddlers of the NRA

In an era when we have hundreds of documented cases of discrimination against people for their sex, religion, or sexual preference, and live in a society where the difference between the haves and have-nots is becoming more pronounced with the passing of each day, the Missouri House of Representatives actually considered a bill to stop discrimination against the most aggrieved group of all -- gun owners.

Rep. Wanda Brown, R-Lincoln, sponsored HB 1621, which said, "It will be unlawful employment practice to discriminate against an individual because he or she has a conceal/carry endorsement or uses a firearm for a lawful purpose."

As far as I can tell, no one has been able to produce a single instance of such discrimination, but in the middle of a session which was supposed to be about jobs (and of course wasn't), this was considered to be so important that it breezed through the House and through a Senate committee before falling short in the logjam of the final days of the 2012 session.

This bill, which most assuredly will return in 2013, follows a long pattern of action in Missouri and in state legislatures across the United States. Year after year, the National Rifle Association sounds the drumbeat that someone is trying to take away our Second Amendment rights, works its membership into a frenzy and continues to justify its existence and, more importantly, raise dues.

The shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida earlier this year brought much attention to the Stand Your Ground laws, which began with the NRA shoving through cookie-cutter Castle Doctrine (or Frontier Justice) laws written by the American Legislative Exchange Council and then passed off by local legislators as their own, which allow people to use deadly force if their lives are threatened.

When the Castle Doctrine bill was first introduced in Missouri, I pointed out that Missourians already had the right to use deadly force if their lives are threatened, but proponents of the bill cited horror stories of lawsuits brought by those who were shot and instances in which people were arrested simply for defending themselves against attackers.

They were never specific when they were telling these horror stories, however. I repeatedly challenged Castle Doctrine supporters to tell me of one instance in which their nightmare scenarios had come to pass. Years later, I sm still waiting to hear from them.

At that time, the bill's sponsor Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon, told KY3's Dave Catanese (now a reporter for Politico) there had been some cases in Missouri, not many, but some that fit into that category, but none in the southwest Missouri area he represented, and further pressed by Catanese, he could not name any specific cases from anywhere else in the state.

Before Castle Doctrine, it was the push for conceal/carry laws.

The National Rifle Association has now made it almost impossible to stop average citizens from buying the kind of weapons that no American needs for hunting or for protection -- the kinds of weapons James Holmes had in Aurora.

I am sick of hearing the NRA and its supporters say, "Guns don't kill people, people do." Absolutely, but why in God's name do we have to make it that much easier for them to do so?

And after every incident of this nature, the Aurora shooting, the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, Virginia Tech, anyone who dares bring up the idea of a common sense approach to this problem is accused of trying to capitalize on tragedy.

And it works. The drumbeat begins again from the NRA and its snake-oil peddlers claiming that President Obama or some other political bogeyman is trying to use the deaths, "the act of one deranged individual," they always say, to take away the citizens' right to bear arms.

They wrap themselves in the American Flag and the Constitution, and soon, the clamor for an answer to the senseless gun violence that has become more and more prevalent in our society dies down and the NRA can begin creating another non-existent attack on gun rights and issue the clarion call for more money to battle those evil liberals who are lurking around every corner ready to grab their guns.

There was a time when the NRA actually stood as a voice of reason when it came to Second Amendment rights. When bans on assault weapons were proposed, the organization did not always oppose them.

The leadership of today's NRA is still accepting dues from its membership, which consists of people who want the freedom to use guns for hunting and protection, freedoms they have and will continue to have no matter how many times they claim those rights are being threatened.

By continuing to cry wolf and by using their political clout to silence those who oppose them, the NRA is opening the door to more gun violence.

But the membership dues will keep coming.