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Opinion Column
For the week of May 31 through June 6, 2000

Fear of gun confiscation translates into big bucks for NRA

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Most people snicker in disbelief when a Machiavellian evangelist comes along to bamboozle followers into selling their earthly possessions and move lockstep into a mountain bunker to await the rapture and ascension into Heaven.

How can otherwise intelligent people, we wonder, fall for such claptrap?

Well, claptrap is being dished out in gobs by leaders of the National Rifle Association and many, if not all, NRA members seem willing to swallow it without question.

The NRA’s mantra, which it has conditioned members over time to believe, is that every new gun law is paving the way for a dark eventuality—confiscation of all firearms by the federal government.

NRA’s propaganda began with its costly, outlandish brainwashing campaign portraying federal law enforcement agencies as "jackbooted thugs," even using photos suggestive of black-booted Nazi storm troopers.

This slander of decent, hard working, loyal U.S. law enforcement so offended then-President George Bush that he ash-canned his NRA membership, as did others.

But other NRA members, the type who’re susceptible to the wacko myth of United Nations "black helicopters" spying on Americans, devoutly believe gun confiscation is being planned.

They point, mindlessly, at confiscation in Nazi Germany, the then-Soviet Union and other tyrannies as "proof" of their fears.

But in rushing to authenticate their paranoia, they forget important facts—tyrannies that confiscated private firearms had no meaningful court systems and no legislative branches, as does the United States, to enact laws and stand in the way of autocratic actions of the executive.

And no one from NRA has explained how, pray, this confiscation will be pulled off—how more than 300 million firearms of all types will be tracked down and physically seized from homes, and by whom.

I own handguns, and all I can do is pity blind followers of empty-headed NRA piffle. Logic and reason has never been the NRA’s strong suit.

In fact, NRA’s leaders, including its president, the overacting former film star, Charlton Heston, can’t possibly believe confiscation is planned, although Heston wowed ‘em at an NRA convention by metaphorically reliving his bravado as the "Ten Commandments" Moses. Dividing the Red Sea with his staff, he hoisted a musket over his head and invoked the vow to die rather than give up his gun.

Ratcheting up fear among NRA members, however, has a big payoff—panicky, unthinking gun owners rush to the mailbox with their contributions, which swell NRA’s political war chest, enabling it to increase strong-arming of American politicians.

The parallel of NRA followers with zealots who blindly follow religious charlatans is too chilling to dismiss.

What thinking NRA members should fear is not confiscation of firearms but confiscation of their common sense by their leaders.

Pat Murphy is the retired publisher of the Arizona Republic and a former radio commentator.


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