As the 148th annual National Rifle Association members’ meetings and exhibits open Friday in Indianapolis, gun prohibitionists will show up to protest the convention, and especially the appearances by the President and Vice President of the United States.
In an Op-Ed published Friday by the Indianapolis Star Tribune, Shannon Watts, founder of the anti-gun-rights Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America, argues that the NRA has become “a fringe group for gun rights extremists.” But who are the real “extremists?”
The gun prohibition lobby—what Second Amendment activists say it has become, demanding bans on whole classes of firearms with laws that would criminalize their possession and turn millions of law-abiding gun owners into outlaws simply for having exercised a constitutionally-enumerated fundamental right—claims it promotes “common sense gun reform.” That is what rights activists call “camo-speak” because it is merely gun control hiding behind a sanitized term.
By no small coincidence, when NRA members hold their annual meeting Saturday in Indy, an anticipated crowd of 2,500 gun owners will gather on the Capitol Steps in Olympia, Washington, to stand up for the very rights Watts and her group would erase if they could.
A statement endorsed by 29 organizations has labeled Saturday’s Olympia rally as a gathering of “far-right groups known for espousing violence.” This statement strongly suggest this will be a horde of white supremacists espousing “violent rhetoric.”
When one side resorts to name-calling in an effort to demonize the other side, who is being “extreme?”
“Everytown and Moms Demand Action are holding NRA leaders and allies accountable as we work to advance a gun safety agenda in Washington and in statehouses and boardrooms across the country. The NRA used to be a power broker, but now it’s just broken. The gun sense majority is now louder than the vocal minority of gun extremists.”—Shannon Watts
In the interest of balance, the Indianapolis newspaper also published a statement from 17-year-old Beth Walker, an Indiana high school student who calls herself a “competitive shooter and Second Amendment advocate.” She welcomes the NRA to her city, asserting that “all Americans need to know that students like those of Parkland, Fla. don’t speak for me or the millions of young people who support the Second Amendment.”
She contends that her voice, and the voices of other gun owners “have largely been drown (sic) out by a well-orchestrated, well-funded media campaign to promote gun control…”
She says what many others, including those gathering Saturday in far-off Washington State, have long maintained:
“In recent years, gun control groups have tried to rebrand themselves as gun safety groups. As someone who grew up with guns and uses them daily, I haven’t learned a single gun safety tip from any of these groups. Everything I know about firearms safety I’ve learned from my family, fellow competitive shooters, or from the NRA. The NRA has more than 125,000 certified instructors across the country. Each year they teach more than 1 million people how to safely and responsibly use a firearm. The NRA does more to promote the safe and responsible use of firearms than any organization in the world.”—Beth Walker
This weekend’s events, in Indianapolis and Olympia, illustrate there are two sides to the gun debate. One side advocates unilateral citizen disarmament and the reduction of a right to the level of a strictly regulated privilege.
The other side doesn’t just talk about gun safety, but teaches it and insists that the right to keep and bear arms spelled out in the Bill of Rights should be protected as zealously as all the other rights.