Local View: Americans need to outmuscle the NRA for sensible gun restrictions

Armed to the teeth. Check. Possessed of enormous power over legislators, governors and judges. Check. Able to dispatch muscle to any location in the country to defeat a political enemy. Check. Bold enough to openly extort police to expedite its a...

David McGrath

Armed to the teeth.


Possessed of enormous power over legislators, governors and judges. Check.

Able to dispatch muscle to any location in the country to defeat a political enemy. Check.

Bold enough to openly extort police to expedite its agenda. Check.


It may sound as if I'm referring to the powerful illegal drug cartels terrorizing Mexico, or perhaps the Sicilian mafia paralyzing Italy impunity. Unfortunately, however, the reference is to the current status of the National Rifle Association, or NRA.

Not in Mexico and not in Italy, the NRA is an organization running roughshod over the United States of America.

The power and influence of the NRA has been well-known and documented since 1970, leading to its current success in having fought off gun control in all but one of the 50 states, that exception being Illinois.

But in a new, in-your-face assault, the NRA has issued a de-facto declaration of war with American police officers. Under the cover of an official "survey" -- and behind the skirt of Marion Hammer, president of its partner organization, United Sportsmen of Florida -- the NRA in Florida has commenced an attack on the Florida Sheriff's Association and all other law-enforcement groups that would dare to oppose any legislation the NRA supports.

The NRA has sent surveys to candidates for state sheriffs to determine if they would defend NRA interests, including the controversial stand-your-ground law, the possession of guns on college campuses, and the ability to carry guns openly in the public arena. The surveys challenge sheriffs to ban deputies and police under their command from lobbying or testifying against any NRA-supported measure, even those that are deemed life-threatening to the public and to law-

enforcement officers themselves.

The so-called "survey" is a sham, of course, since Hammer, the survey signatory and a past president of the NRA, indicated answers unfavorable of NRA interests would lead to the forfeiture of NRA support for the candidates, essentially dooming their careers. Hammer further warned that skipping questions or opting not to return the survey would trigger NRA opposition to the sheriff candidates.

This may be the last straw for the American people.


They have been patient and accepted Supreme Court decisions that favored NRA interpretations of the Second Amendment, inferring the right of an individual to bear arms rather than a "well-organized militia."

They stood by while the NRA made massive campaign contributions, essentially buying the votes of Congress to enhance gun rights and outlaw gun control.

They watched as the NRA turned each state into a de facto Dodge City, eliminating registration and giving every civilian the chance to carry a concealed handgun.

They shuddered when states from Florida to Colorado were turned into the OK Corral with stand-your-ground statutes that essentially made it legal for any gunman, including convicted felons, to shoot an unarmed victim and claim self-defense.

But extorting our police force? On this, America may wish to stand its own damned ground.

Even though citizens have been supportive of the unfettered right of an individual to bear arms, the 60 percent majority of Americans in a 2011 Gallup Poll who called for stricter enforcement of current gun laws and the 90 percent of gun owners who are not members of the NRA will not take kindly to this blatant threat against our own police.

Up until now, the NRA has stretched the Second Amendment to its breaking point, from demanding open exchange and possession of military assault rifles to permitting a fully armed populace at this year's Republican National Convention and even blocking the restriction of guns on campus at the University of Colorado.

But since governors, congressmen, judges, and even our presidents remain cowed by the NRA, American citizens need to take matters into their own hands. They need to propose a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would alter if not abolish the Second Amendment. There is plenty of precedent for this kind of initiative, as in the case of the 21st amendment being passed to abolish the 18th which ended Prohibition.


And the World Wide Web makes it possible for an organization such as the Brady Campaign to circumvent NRA puppets in Congress by mobilizing state conventions for legally getting such an amendment on the ballot.

In this the most violent country in the civilized world, in which more than 100,000 people are victims of gun violence each year -- including 12 recently killed and 58 wounded by an armed man in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater -- the language of such an amendment can be crafted to ensure reasonable gun rights for Americans while protecting, rather than jeopardizing, lives and devastating innocent families.

David McGrath of Hayward is a writer, author and adjunct college professor, and he is among the 90 percent of U.S. gun owners who elect not to join the NRA. He can be contacted at .

Steve Lindstrom for 0729

What To Read Next
Get Local