- Posted January 16, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Gun control debate: Background checks
It's Time for a New NRA
Let’s call it the AFA – The American Firearms Association.
"American" as a testament to American values that are embodied in the entire Constitution, not just the Second Amendment.
"Firearms" rather than “Rifle” – a term that better describes the organization’s scope of responsibility.
And as an association, the AFA would be a well-regulated non-governmental organization that is financially unaffiliated with any gun manufacturers or political parties.
The primary purpose of the AFA would be to represent the many millions of moderate and reasonable gun owners – people whose beliefs and interests are no longer aligned with those of the NRA. The AFA, like its predecessor, would still be a strong advocate for the right to bear arms, but with equally strong support for the types of gun control laws and limitations that promote the general welfare of the nation and ensure domestic tranquility.
By balancing the principles of individual rights with the common good, the AFA would become the true vanguard of safe, civilized and knowledgeable ownership of guns in our country and exemplify the personal and shared responsibility that is at the heart of the Second Amendment.
Safety and responsibility would be the governing core values of the AFA, but unlike the NRA, the application of those values would extend beyond the individual gun owner to the community as a whole. While the NRA has chosen to serve as the political proxy for the gun industry, the AFA would instead serve members and non-members alike, as a "responsible" stakeholder in the shared mission to reduce gun violence. By declining donations from gun and ammunition manufacturers, the public interest of reducing violence would take precedence over the private interests of these corporations.
All gun control legislation has the potential for overreach and ineffectiveness. Ironically, the NRA disqualifies itself from participating in the legislative process through its absolutist position – it has concluded that any and all gun control is unacceptable. As the rational alternative, the AFA would fill this seat at the table and represent the spirit and intent of the Second Amendment on behalf of its membership throughout the process. A moderate, reasonable and collaborative participating body is essential, and because gun owners are a broad cross section of America, the AFA’s input should be welcomed.
Of course, extremists equate “collaboration” with conspiracy, as if there isn’t already a profit-driven collaboration between the NRA and the gun industry. The AFA is certainly at risk of corruption – particularly with the government - and managing this risk will be the job of the membership. The association will have its best chance of becoming an effective and uncorrupted organization by relying entirely on membership fees and donations, and strictly prohibiting any financial affiliations with corporate, political or government entities.
A consequence of this purity: the AFA will not have enough money to spend on ads that attack the President and other gun control advocates. But as a pragmatic representative of a major voting bloc, it won’t need to because it will already be part of the conversation.
The AFA could also serve as the facilitator and monitor of valid, meaningful research on gun usage and gun control. With the introduction of new gun control laws, it is essential that we understand the impact of legislation through data that is unfiltered and actionable. Unlike the NRA, the AFA would be better positioned to provide objective oversight of research that is free from the influence of companies who have a stake in how the results are presented (or whether they are presented at all).
Could the NRA and AFA co-exist? Of course, because the AFA would have a different mandate than the NRA. The AFA would serve as the true guardian of the rights and principles of the Second Amendment as envisioned by our founding fathers, while the NRA will likely remain the guardian of a multi-million dollar industry.
It is telling that the NRA had a great opportunity to provide leadership on the issues of gun control, but they chose not to. Through cowardice, they have attributed gun violence to everything but guns, with solutions that are inevitably (and financially) tied to more guns. Through courage, the AFA would join us in confronting gun violence with rational, meaningful advocacy and comprehensive solutions.
In this capacity, the AFA would strengthen our Constitutional right to bear arms and affirm this fundamental value – one that is and will continue to be an integral part of our history and culture.