Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"I love my gun"

NRA stands for National Rifle Association. It was created in November 1871 after the Secession War by two Union Army officers, Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate, “who were upset about the poor marksmanship of their troops”[1]. The NRA claims on its website to have 4.3 million members[2] and its headquarters is established in Fairfax (Virginia). The association organizes and sponsors, among others, firearm safety training courses as well as marksmanship events involving shooting skills and other sports[3].

As far as the structure is concerned, the NRA is governed by a large board of directors, typically seventy-five members. The directors elect the president among their members, who is the leading spokesperson for the organisation. While this position was meant to change annually, Charleston Heston was an exception because he was in charge from 1998 to 2003. His longevity as the NRA president was probably due as much to his charisma (he was a famous actor) as to his enthusiasm to defend the NRA ideas. He
is now an honorary life member[4] and has recently been interviewed and mocked in Michael Moore’s famous documentary "Bowling for Columbine" (2002)[5].

The NRA, as being a
pro-weapon lobbyism, campaigns for the right to self-defence and personal protection as described in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution (see Wikipedia link). This amendement was voted in 1791 at a time when the U.S.A still had no army. The text declares “a well regulated militia as ‘being necessary to the security of a free State’, and prohibits Congress from infringing on the right of the people to keep and bear arms”[6]. The interpretation of the NRA focuses on the last part of this Amendment, namely on the fact that civilians may carry weapons provided they are part of a ‘well regulated militia’. The problem lies in the interpretation of the term ‘militia’, which the NRA equates to “the body of citizenry at large”[7]. Since a ‘militia’ implies rules and regulations, a more objective interpretation would be to take it as meaning ‘an army’.

The NRA is considered as “one of the most influential political lobbies in the U.SA because of its ability to […] deliver large numbers of votes in elections, as well its record of campaign contribution”[8]. A recent example is the presidential election of 2000: George W. Bush is said to have won over Al Gore
in the states of Arkansas and Tennessee because of the NRA's campaign “on the theme that Gore would ‘take their guns’”[9]. When one knows which effects such a lobbyism can have, one understands certain things happening in the highest spheres of power.

Caroline and Xavier


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