It's time for some to stop bringing up NRA's past

It's time for some to stop bringing up NRA's past
AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File

The NRA has, historically, been a lot of different things. These days, it’s an embattled organization that has been fending off attacks from every direction, having just recently survived one state’s attempt to dissolve the organization completely.

However, it was other things even before that.

What’s interesting is how often some like to bring up the NRA’s past, particularly how the organization once supported gun control.

In a recent remote talk to the Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County, Joshua Koskoff, an attorney in the $73 million settlement against Remington rifles, shared what he has learned about the state’s place in gun history.

The details are telling, and while Connecticut lawmakers discuss an initiative meant to lessen gun homicides in the state, we should remember that the conversation about how much weaponry is too much started at least a century ago.

Back then, government action was able to remove from the market a particularly dangerous weapon — the so-called Tommy gun — manufactured in Connecticut.

And the National Rifle Association was on board. Back then, no one wanted to see innocents shot down in the streets.

The NRA president at the time agreed and decried “the general promiscuous toting of guns.” He said he wasn’t sure legislation would be an effective antidote, but it was. By employing tactics such as requiring gun owner registration and permits, and by imposing stiff taxes on higher-powered weaponry, the sale of machine guns was effectively ended in three short years.

See, anti-Second Amendment voices bring this kind of thing up because they’re hoping to make some case that the NRA should support gun control now, that they’re somehow abandoning their roots by standing up for gun rights now.

If you want to play that game, maybe we should also remember that Democrats once supported slavery, segregation, and herding Japanese-Americans into concentration camps.

Oh, wait, that’s irrelevant?

Maybe it is, but no more irrelevant than what the NRA stood for in the 1930s.

Since that time, we’ve seen how things work. Crime sucks and someone says we need gun control. The NRA of that day said sure, and we got the NFA. Then later we were told crime sucks and that we needed to give up some of our gun rights, and the NRA of the day said sure, and we got the GCA.

Time and time again, the NRA went along with what gun-control advocates wanted until the membership said enough was enough. They went in and cleaned house among the leadership and shifted the organization on the path we’ve seen.

Now, you can argue not all of that path is good–and there do seem to be issues, to be sure–but the NRA’s stance on gun control these days isn’t and shouldn’t be one beholden to the past almost a century old but what the current membership demands.

Any organization can have a troubled past. As noted, Democrats aren’t exactly capable of basking in an unblemished history themselves. Yet if you’re going to try to suggest that the NRA’s history of backing gun control measures then somehow means the current NRA should do the same, then that can be applied to literally any organization.

But things change. What memberships value can change.

With the NRA, people got sick of losing more and more of their rights, and for what? They watched as gun control did absolutely nothing. The homicide rate drop in the 1930s is more closely related to the end of prohibition than the NFA, as one example, then when GCA passed, we watched the homicide rate climb. Why should gun owners and NRA members watch their organization bargain away their rights for nothing?

What the NRA did in the past and what they do now are irrelevant, especially from Democrats who like to distance themselves from their pro-slavery past.