Last Saturday I attended a National Rifle Association breakfast for local Republican legislative candidates.
An NRA lobbyist jetted in to tell a few lies and fire up the troops. The NRA desperately wants Republicans to control our Legislature, and will put up big bucks to keep making big bucks on gun sales.
When the lobbyist mentioned that Representative Rick Little was on the Safety & Civil Affairs Committee, “one of the places a good gun bill or a bad gun bill will go,” Little quickly added “and get killed.” A pocket-sized NRA handout made clear there are no good gun bills – except one that broadens the concealed-carry law or cuts the prices for licenses.
The arguments against well-crafted gun laws – and I grant that not all legislation is well-crafted – are “slippery slope”: if you let the government require background checks or try to prevent terrorists from having guns, soon they’ll be knocking on your door to confiscate your gun.
No sensible person could deny that many unnecessary deaths involve guns. That doesn’t mean get rid of all the guns: that’s unconstitutional, impractical, and probably unwise. But automatically rejecting every proposal to improve the situation is good only for gun manufacturers.
If the U.S. Constitution had mentioned automobiles, would a National Automobile Association be screaming against DWI laws and speed-limits? You’d laugh if someone claimed that outlawing drunk driving is part of a plot to confiscate our cars. If I drunkenly drove through the Plaza de Las Cruces, could I argue in court that outlawing drunk driving violates my Constitutional right to travel?
But all our Republican candidates toed the NRA line: no gun-law is a good gun-law. Rep. Terry McMillan said he got “the chills” over “a group that systematically tries to disarm the citizenry.” He claimed he started buying guns when Obama was elected, and “rumors were flying” about guns being outlawed. Does acting on wild rumors recommend him?
The lobbyist, calling our county “ground zero in the fight for our Second Amendment rights,” bragged that the NRA had gotten a big turnout to speak against the Las Cruces City Council resolution favoring background checks. She said they’d gotten only “24-hour notice on July 4thweekend.” In fact, the Council gives at least 72-hour notice of meetings – and sets the agenda in an open meeting the previous Monday.
The lobbyist stood in front of signs for Donald Trump and local Republicans, none of whom disclaimed support for Trump. I sat near an elderly man who told me he was a devout Christian. I pointed to the big Trump sign and asked how he, as a Christian, regarded Trump. He confided that “I don’t think my vote will be missed. I’m going to vote for the Constitutional Party candidate.”
One candidate mentioned the fraudulent scheme to recall our city councilors. Bankrolled mostly from outside the city, and run by an outsider, its agents consistently lied to voters to procure signatures. The recall ultimately lost because the councilors had strong constituent support; but Andy Nuñez (currently under an ethics investigation) said of his opponent Nathan Small, “the recall effort just shows you what kind of guy he is.” Actually, Andy, it shows me that you’ll say any old misleading thing for a vote. A fraudulent recall effort by outsiders rebuffed by Small’s constituents says only good about Small.
The visiting NRA lobbyist criticized “the determination of people who live far from here to tell you how to live.” Ironically, she “jetted away” before I could praise her perfect description of the recall effort – and NRA’s lobbying.
[The above column appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News this morning, as well as on the newspaper’s website and on KRWG-TV’s website. I welcome comments, questions, and criticism here or on either of those sites.]