The appropriate response of the NRA to Orlando terrorism

After high profile shootings, some advocate of gun control, whether in an editorial or on social media, will complain that the NRA is silent.  Or the complaint will be expressed that the gun-rights organization continues with business as usual.  This is illustrated by Media Matters for America‘s Timothy Johnson in an article, titled, “NRA Breaks Silence After Worst Mass Shooting In U.S. History: Buy NRA Gear For Father’s Day.”

This leaves me to wonder what, in the view of gun control advocates, would be an appropriate response.  Not that it’s all that difficult to figure out the answer—the calls for bans on the AR-15 are already coming inEverytown for Gun Safety are only saying we need to fight for an America free from gun violence, and politicians from the Democratic Party are varied.  Senator Sanders said “we should not be selling automatic weapons which are designed to kill people,” confusing full auto and semiautomatic firearms, while others only made more general demands for further controls without being specific.

But would the NRA advocate for those things?  The very idea is nonsensical.  Despite the endless repetition of the claim that the organization serves the interests of gun makers, in practical effect, the NRA and other groups lobby for gun rights.  Gun sales are a necessary component of those rights, as the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Teixeira, et al. v. County of Alameda reminded zoning regulators.  But advocates of gun control are demanding that the NRA act in a manner contrary to the organization’s stated goals.

What if, as an analogy, the American Civil Liberties Union were condemned every time the Klan wants to march in a city.  In that example, the ACLU actually has played a role in protecting the right of offensive people to express themselves.  Though leaders of the NRA have made shocking statements from time to time, the group itself has not called for murder.

But the NRA has now issued a response to the outrage.  Just as the statements of gun control groups are predictable, so are those of the nation’s best known gun-rights organization:  banning guns won’t stop attacks, the Assault Weapons Ban didn’t work, and the real problem is radical Islam.  The claim that bans on guns don’t work is correct, while the motivation of the shooter is becoming complicated as we learn more about his past.  He was known to spend time at the nightclub that he later attacked, though it’s not clear if he was planning out his crime or if he was trying to figure himself out.

That last piece of information offers us an answer, one that both sides may reflexively dismiss, but one that offers the promise of good results.  What if, instead of seeking to ban this and demonize that, instead we all, Republicans and Democrats, gun owners and pacifists, join together to spread the message that each person has the right to be whoever he or she is, so long as no other person is forced to participate.  It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, bisexual, cis- or transgender, religious or not—live your life, do as much good in the world as you’re capable, and don’t harm innocents.  Fulfill those things, and the rest of us will treat you with the same dignity that we want for ourselves.  We gun owners will add that we’re here to resist anyone who feels the need to kill others to quiet his own demons.

That’s an answer we haven’t tried so far.  Given the failures of so many previous answers, this solution has the advantage of novelty, if nothing else.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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