14 December 2012

Guns and Nuts

In 2008, the National Rifle Association told its members that Barack Obama, if elected President, would “ban use of firearms for home defense,” “pass federal laws eliminating your right-to-carry,” and “mandate a government-issued license to purchase a firearm.”

None of those things came to pass, Reason magazine’s Steve Chapman pointed out in April. In fact, firearms restrictions loosened under President Obama even as Americans used guns to carry out several high-profile mass murders. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave Obama an “F” grade on its priorities.

As many reporters have noted, including this piece in the Daily Mail and this Associated Press dispatch, gun and ammunition purchases in America rose sharply in recent years. In January 2009 Outdoor Wire, “the outdoor industry’s daily transactions newsletter,” called the new President “Gun Salesman of the Year,” as noted by Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit. Hoft also watched gun manufacturers’ record sales continue into 2012.

At the same time, however, the proportion of American households that owned guns continued to drop. In other words, people who already owned guns have been buying a lot more for themselves. Why? Well, for one thing the NRA keeps telling them to.

The NRA’s dismal record at predicting policies for the President’s first term did nothing to deter executive vice president Wayne LaPierre from warning last February that Obama planned to “get re-elected and, with no more elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms freedom.” The NRA issued another set of wild predictions (PDF download). After its campaign spending failed, LaPierre started another cycle of fear-mongering, as Media Matters reported.

LaPierre and his colleagues of course have an economic incentive to stoke those fears. It’s therefore difficult to say whether they’re sincerely suffering from OIP Derangement Syndrome or simply carriers of it. But the NRA has proven handily that its policy positions are not based on reality. American legislators should look elsewhere for real solutions to our real problems.

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