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Hostile and Loaded

Updated: 1 day ago

"I keep hearing ... that guns don't kill people, but people kill people. If that's the case, why do we give people guns when they go to war? Why not just send the people?”

~ Ozzy Osbourne

I received yet another survey in my email today. Ever since I announced that I’m running for a State Representative seat, I’ve been getting a lot of surveys from organizations that—no doubt—are wondering whether or not they have a friend. This particular survey was from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

The opening paragraphs of the email seemed genuine and sincere:

Dear Missouri Candidate,
The 2024 election is right around the corner and our members want to hear from you regarding your stance on the Second Amendment.
As America’s foremost defender of our Second Amendment rights, the NRA, since its inception, has been the premier firearms education organization in the world. Our continued leadership is due to the tireless service of our millions of members that have championed Second Amendment rights and NRA programs throughout the nation.

The emphasis above is mine, focusing on "education." I never thought of the NRA as being an organization dedicated to education. It may have started that way, back in 1871, but it has since morphed into a lobbying arm for the gun manufacturing industry. The lack of any emphasis on education was made blatantly obvious further down in the introductory email, where it stated:

If you choose not to return a questionnaire, you may be assigned a "?" rating, which can be interpreted by our members as indifference, if not outright hostility, toward Second Amendment-related issues.

The word “hostility” hit a familiar tone because a few days prior, I received a similar survey from the Missouri Firearms Coalition asking about my attitude toward firearms in Missouri. They plainly stated that a lack of my response would be interpreted as being hostile. It's somewhat concerning when dealing with gun folks who view you as hostile.

Nevertheless, I set about answering the NRA survey, not wanting to leave them in doubt about my position.

Of the 20 questions asked in this survey, I believe only one of my answers would be considered “non-hostile” in the eyes of the NRA. That question was, “Do you agree that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for all law-abiding Americans?” I answered “Yes” to this question, as I honestly believe that law-abiding citizens (emphasis on law-abiding) should be able to own guns.

In the eyes of the NRA, I probably failed the remaining 19 questions. My main problem was that the questions were loaded (pun intended). That is, the questions, as stated, made highly opinionated assumptions and only offered a "yes/no" response. I find it impossible to answer loaded questions in a binary fashion because the premise leaves no room for nuance. In other words, whether you answer "yes" or "no," you tacitly agree with the opinionated premise. For example, consider one of the survey questions below. The emphasis highlights the assumption that the state aims to punish law-abiding citizens.

Efforts at the state level are increasingly targeting access to ammunition, with proposals to ban mail order sales, require background checks and point-of-sale record-keeping, eliminate traditional lead shot, ration purchases, and even restrict the amount of ammunition that may be possessed at one time. Most of these proposals at the state level aim to punish law-abiding people who practice, train, and participate in recreational shooting activities. Do you support new restrictions on the purchase and possession of ammunition beyond current law?

I would never assume that all gun owners are law-abiding people who practice, train, and participate in recreational shooting activities. So how did I answer this question? There was no possibility to call BS on the question's premise, so I answered "Yes."

The rest of the survey questions dealt with the issues of providing young people with guns, the right to carry guns on public transit systems, limiting the rounds of ammunition in magazines, eliminating gun-free zones, getting rid of extended background checks, nullifying requirements to keep guns in locked storage, stand your ground, and so on. Every one of these questions was loaded, presenting me with a false binary decision on a highly nuanced issue.

After the final question of the survey, I was given an opportunity to fill out a “comments” section, which I used to tell the NRA how I honestly feel about guns and the NRA’s faux concern with gun education and safety.

I don’t delude myself; I’m sure I’m now on the NRA’s list of hostile enemies, which doesn’t exactly have me quaking in my boots; any organization that wraps a worthy topic in layers of false assumptions doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously.

Here's my final comment to the NRA:

The NRA promotes itself as "the premier firearms education organization in the world," yet their actions, particularly in lobbying, do not align with this claim. This survey makes it clear that the NRA's primary focus is on ensuring unrestricted access to firearms, with little regard for public safety. If the organization truly prioritized firearm education, their policies and efforts would reflect that commitment.
As a potential representative for Missouri's 97th District, I firmly support the constitutional right to bear arms. However, my priority is to balance this right with the safety of the community. Legislation I would propose aims to protect the rights of individuals while preventing firearms from falling into the wrong hands—those who are untrained or unfit to handle them responsibly. This approach not only supports lawful ownership but also prioritizes the rights and safety of potential victims over the rights of perpetrators.
The Second Amendment begins with "A well-regulated militia," a clause that emphasizes the need for oversight and regulation. I support this provision and the entire Amendment in a manner that respects both our freedoms and our collective security.

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