A baby boomer shoots at the NRA

When we were kids, the National Rifle Association was not the controversial political lobbying group it has become today. That’s yet another evolution we have witnessed as baby boomers in America. In this Boomer Opinion essay, BoomerCafé co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs writes that if the NRA hadn’t gone too far before in its unrelenting and inflexible defense of the Second Amendment, it has, now.

What nerve.

Even after the Florida shooting, the National Rifle Association would have you believe that by fighting for more guns in schools, not less, it is actually protecting our children. Just as appalling, it asserts that those of us with the audacity to rate the NRA as one of the most poisonous, not protective, forces in America don’t understand “that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics” of our nation. So says the NRA.

Well, I’ve got news for the nation’s most powerful gun lobby, which issued its detestable declaration after coming under fire following Florida: there are patriots outside its shortsighted ranks. I’m one of them. I’ll even go out on a limb and say, I might be more patriotic than some of the leading lights of the NRA. Their definition of patriotism is conformity. Mine is consciousness. Consciousness that we aren’t Americans because we are smarter than most anyone else, but simply because we are luckier. Which makes us freer, and arguably richer, with the world at our doorstep.

I’ve worked in more than 80 countries around the world. Most were in the Third World or in the Communist orbit. I’ve seen what it’s like to live with your prestigious job or your upscale apartment or your children’s choice school all dependent on your fealty to your government. We don’t. That alone has heightened my love for my country. That is patriotism.

Greg Dobbs

I’ve landed on presidential trips in Air Force One in countries where people flocked to the airport— if they were even allowed to get that far— merely to cast their eyes on the Stars and Stripes proudly illuminated on the tail of the aircraft, the words “United States of America” boldly painted on its sides. They came, knowing full well that it was the closest they’d ever actually get to the land of the free and the home of the brave, and knowing, in some places, that there was risk in the mere act of showing up. It was enough to fill my eyes with tears and my chest with pride in our nation. That, is patriotism.

What nerve. And what gall.

According to the NRA, the American companies that have just severed their affiliations with it— translation: no more special rates for NRA members — are guilty of “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.”

A shameful display? If anything, at least a dozen major American corporations and some smaller ones finally realize that their longtime relationships with the NRA are the shameful part. Companies running the gamut from airlines to rental cars, banks to life insurance, healthcare to software. Whether they ended their NRA ties because its inflexible fanaticism became too much to stomach or because they heard from so many angry customers, they moved the debate about its dangers from Main Street to Wall Street. Knowing of its lobbying power, cutting loose was an act of courage, not cowardice.

Likewise for Dick’s Sporting Goods and others like Walmart that followed. No more gun sales to anyone under 21. And in Dick’s case, no more assault-style weapons, period. It’s no panacea, but it probably will save some lives and at the very least it sounds like a message to the NRA to shove it!

The NRA’s response to the companies that eliminated its members’ discounts was to say that they “were trying to punish its law-abiding members who had nothing to do with the shooting.” Maybe not, at least maybe not directly. But in supporting the NRA’s pigheaded policies by the sheer act of paying their dues, members arguably are complicit.

So what nerve. What gall. And how dare the NRA.

Just last year, it characterized all who oppose its policies as “organized anarchy.” Anarchy, of course, means disorder, insurrection, a disobedience to authority. Is that how the NRA sees itself? As the ultimate authority? Maybe it’s time that it be cut down to size.

AR-15 assault style guns are plentiful and easy to acquire in many states.

And why not? The most recent polling— post-Marjory Stoneman Douglas School— shows roughly two-thirds of all Americans support at least some form of gun control. Not the confiscation of citizens’ guns in America, just what we keep calling “sensible” gun control that might at least make it harder for bad guys to get their hands on guns. By the same two-to-one margin, Americans support a ban on so-called assault weapons, like the firearm that killed the 17 students and teachers in Florida.

Why, even President Trump, who once assured the NRA (which spent about $30 million supporting his campaign), “I am going to come through for you,” is feeling the heat and gently going up against the gun lobby’s myopic militants, floating ideas like raising the age to buy a semi-automatic, strengthening background checks, and banning bump stocks (like the one used last year to mow down 58 people in Las Vegas). Although with this president, these might or might not stick.

So how dare the NRA for purporting to speak in America’s best interest. Precisely and plainly put, it doesn’t. Most of us don’t run around feeling threatened by everything from home intruders to government agents. Most of us run around feeling thankful that we’re not.

And I’m more hopeful than before that our ranks will keep growing. There already were plenty of publicized cases of abuse against women long before the charges against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein opened the floodgates and created the movement that has come to be known as #MeToo. There also were many episodes of firearm violence against schoolchildren before Florida, yet because it was the last straw for some of the stricken school’s outspoken survivors, it has become the catalyst for another national movement now known as #BoycottNRA. Its goal is not to keep hunters from their sport or to end firearm safety programs which make gun ownership less dangerous. But if somehow it diminishes the pomposity and power of those who guide the National Rifle Association, then good riddance.

They’re not patriots. They’re purveyors of fear, crusading for more guns, not less, which makes life in America more dangerous, not less.

Check out Greg’s latest book, Life in the Wrong Lane.

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  1. The NRA is simply lobbying for those businesses that make millions of dollars selling weapons and ammunition and also contribute millions of dollars to the NRA. They are hiding behind the Second Amendment. The NRA is bought a paid for, just like many elected officials are. Until we are able to take money and greed out of politics and the creation of public policy, things will never change.

  2. Great piece, Greg. The NRA should more appropriately be called NRMA, for National Rifle Manufacturers Association. They’re all about getting more guns in more hands each year. There’s a simple reason why America dominates the world in the category of gun violence: too many friggin’ guns!

    1. I agree Alan, NRMA’s mission is also to incite civil unrest. Because if citizens are focused on mass shootings, then they are not paying attention to what neocon lawmakers are doing like plundering America of it wealth and resources.

  3. It’s not just ‘bad guys’ that kill people. Let’s not forget the alarming stats of small children getting their hands on ‘safely stored weapons’, and killing themselves or members of their own families. I watch in horror.

  4. “Screed”as defined by Merriam -Webster,
    a : a lengthy discourse
    b : an informal piece of writing (such as a personal letter)
    c : a ranting piece of writing
    Well, Well, Well, Greg:
    You penned quite a Screed, as defined by c. but you failed to provide any proposed solution in your “jumping on the bandwagon” rant. So rather than produce a reasonable and well-thought piece about possible solutions, you chose to vent your rage and vitriol against the NRA using your bully pulpit, i.e. Boomer Cafe.
    Speaking for myself, I wish I could propose some reasonable solutions but I am still sorting through it all, ponderating and cogitating on some solutions.
    In general terms, I like it here and have contributed a piece here but seeing this space used for your screed against the NRA has me questioning my further subscription to this site.
    ‘Nuff said and Vaya con Dios, Greg

    1. Gee, “Uncle Albert” …
      At least you are clear that while you embrace a feeble sort of overused alt-right sarcasm, you do not like open sharing of opinions and certainly are not about to contribute any meaningful discourse. That’s sort of the haughty signature-style of alt-right behavior it seems. That and hiding behind phony personas.
      I am not aware there is any “subscription” to BoomerCafe but rather an opt-in and opt-out email list. Regardless, I doubt if anyone will miss you, here or anywhere else.

    2. I think the article is meant to be an opinion piece on the NRA. Solutions to the problems are another set of even lengthier articles which were out-of-scope to this article.

  5. Members of my family have fought in the service of this country back to and including the American Revolution. My father and my five uncles fought, variously, in the US Navy, US Army, US Marines, and US Army Air Force in WWII. Afterward, none of them talked about it very much. They used guns, dropped bombs, flew fighter planes. They had to use weapons. Thanks to them, I love and respect my country, and what it has always stood for. I don’t need to be a member of the NRA to be a patriot.
    Thanks to one of those uncles, I learned to handle a gun, to shoot, and to clean and maintain a weapon. I didn’t need to be a member of the NRA to learn to respect firearms. The NRA doesn’t grant me that right, the Second Amendment does.

    I grew up in a big city; for a while, I worked in that city every day. It is a city, it is not the Wild West. I am not in law enforcement. I do not feel the need to carry a gun in daily life. The NRA doesn’t protect my city, or prevent crime. Police departments do that. They generally do a good job. They have training. They have discipline.
    Sometimes private citizens need to carry. I can accept that. However, we have not yet sunk into the post-apocalyptic anarchy of Mad Max. Private citizens to not need assault rifles. They don’t need rocket-propelled grenades or sidewinder missiles, either, and those are prohibited by Federal law.
    Carrying any kind of gun carries responsibilities. It is not something to be done on a lark, or because it sounds “cool.” Wherever there is a gun, there is the possibility it will be used. If it is used, it could end someone’s life. Let that sink in: Carry a gun, you could take someone’s life. Own an assault rifle, your weapon could take many lives if it gets in the wrong hands. The NRA is not making this country safer, although they are making gun manufacturers richer by pushing guns and fomenting fear.

  6. Apologies to all, but I agree with Uncle Albert. I come to BoomerCafe for articles for and about Boomers. If I want political rants or commentary, I can get that on CNN or Fox news or Facebook. If you alienate the conservative portion of your readership, they leave. And the whole BoomerCafe community suffers. Please, no more political diatribes.
    Peter, your comment reeks of “haughty”.
    Erin, a “weapon” is not a symbol of patriotism? Look on any dollar bill. The Great Seal’s eagle has an olive branch in one talon, arrows in the other. “a strong desire for peace, but will always be ready for war.”(Wikipedia, Great Seal of USA) I know you’re referring to the NRA in your comment, but weapons have always been part and parcel of US history.

    1. I am sorry that a discussion of an important national issue disturbs you. I am sorry that there are some who are unable to tolerate listening to various POVs but that is what we, as boomers, as citizens, need to do.

    2. I will posit that the article has much to do with Boomers. We are the generation that saw the NRA change dramatically from an information, training, service organization to a highly politicized firebrand that controls much of our state and national legislators. We are also the grandparents of the generation now becoming increasingly vocal about gun violence in their schools and recreational habitats. My father was a gun owner–hunter. I think he would be shocked to see what “his” NRA has become. As a mother and a medical writer, I’m horror-struck by reading the writings of ER physicians and radiologists who treat patients who have been shot by AR-15 type firearms. The devastation to human tissue is far more devastating than the damage done by most handguns. These weapons are not what the 2nd Amendment intended.

  7. Mary, I appreciate your comments.

    Our elected officials are bought and paid for by international corporations. Gun manufacturers have gotten various pieces of legislation passed to prevent Americans from studying gun usage. For example, gun manufacturers got legislation passed to prevent researchers from studying gun violence. They made it illegal for doctors to ask about guns in the home.

    International corporations are always looking for the next gravy train, even if they have to manufacture one. Think: Oploids or health care. We are just cash cows for exploitation.

  8. We The People did not elect the NRA. The NRA is not a branch of our government. The NRA is not a federal agency. They should not be dictating our laws. The NRA DOES give politicians scads of money. We need to stop letting special interests buy our politicians.

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