Courageous Conversations: The NRA’s Grip on Gun Rights


SPRINGFIELD, Mo – And continuing our Courageous Conversation tonight on school security, our political analyst Dr. Brian Calfano looks at the NRA’s influence on the larger gun rights debate.

As political interest groups go, the National Rifle Association or NRA is as powerful as they come. But why is this the case, especially when opinion polls show that a majority of Americans oppose many of the NRA’s policy views? We take a look.

Not everyone supporting the second amendment is an NRA member, but they likely feel close to organization’s goals.

Indeed, second amendment supporters are animated and engaged in defending their right to bear arms. Much of this is because of what historians claim is America’s “gun culture”-its fascination with guns as items to collect, protect, and, some would say, even protest with. For its part, the NRA encourages the view that this gun culture-part of America’s heritage-is under siege.

And this can make any mention of gun control measures a non-starter for many. What powers the NRA’s dominance is the extent to which group supporters are committed to the single cause of holding the line on gun regulations, even when opponents raise objections in the name of school security.

We asked local conservative talk show host nick reed on KSGF for his view on why a lot of his local listeners take the kind of stance that helps make the NRA so powerful.

Reed says, “it’s two fold I find for some people. It’s philosophical or it is that right to bear arms. It is a human right. It’s something that isn’t given by the constitution, but that the constitution has laid out specifically that this is so important that people have this right to protect them from a tyrannical government.”

Fighting against tyranny harkens to the Founders’ notion that governments can be overthrown when they violate the people’s rights. But that’s not the only reason for supporting gun rights.

According to reed, “the way a lot of people, they look at the numbers, they look at FBI statistics, and they look at parts of the country that have the most gun restrictions and those are the areas that have the most gun deaths.”

People who want more regulation dispute that generalization as untrue. But they also can’t prove that gun control reduces gun deaths.

Then there’s the sense-encouraged by the NRA–that the political left won’t stop until gun rights are gone.

Reed offers, “it always, ‘well, we’re not trying take away your right. We’re just trying to have ‘common sense’ legislation. But it never stops. You know, how many times have we heard ‘we just want an inch,’ and a lot of people look back on that and realize it never stops. So, the only stopping point is the complete elimination of the right to bear arms.”

Using guns for hunting, sport, and self-defense is where most of the common ground on the issue can be found. But those in favor of gun control say the claim that guns keep the government in check is just plain treason. Reed has a response to that too.

“And that is where the Second Amendment would come into play to protect that treasonous behavior. So it’s the one fighting against the treason, it is the answer to the treason against liberty. So it’s a difference in understanding what it is that we’re protecting.”

Though it’s hard to imagine how guns can stop a government with tanks and precision guided munitions, the idea that the people keep the government in check is what this country was founded on, and it’s a view that the NRA helps promote.

But let’s not fall into the trap of making this courageous conversation about gun rights. It’s about school security. Children in America’s schools are themselves under siege, and we owe it to them to work for practical solutions in ensuring their safety, no matter our side in this gun debate.

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