How the NRA Killed the Coffee

by Burr Deming

We went to gallows humor when my employer made that minor change. We knew it meant the company was going down.

Now the NRA makes the same minor change and it gives us hope.I knew it was time to start looking for new employment when the company announced a new coffee policy.

It seems to provide free coffee to employees was unfair to non-coffee drinkers. So free coffee service would be discontinued. Employees wishing to drink coffee could bring their own.

I do recall with some fondness the gallows humor that followed. Perhaps the parking lot should be closed since free parking would be unfair to non-drivers. But everyone knew a company that could not afford coffee was in serious trouble.

The layoffs started soon after.

Years later, I was drinking a cup of coffee at work, thinking about my previous employer, when I heard about the National Rifle Association.

In my youth, the NRA was a sort of sports and hunting club. At least I saw it that way. I have a dim youthful memory of firing a 22-caliber rifle at the shooting range of Camp Babcock Hovey under the watchful eye of the Boy Scout instructor. He recited safety quotes from the NRA.

But somewhere along the line, they left the embrace of their members, most of whom, according to those who gather polling data, favor some form of gun safety regulation. In a cynical follow-the-money age, I have the lazy impression it involved finance. Less income came from membership dues, and more came from firearms manufacturers.

The NRA became a vehicle of sorts for a sort of mutual corporate coordination. It advanced a legislative agenda that would benefit the industry. And it enabled a sort of mutual enforcement. Member companies were encouraged to stay in unison, one with another.

When Smith & Wesson began to cooperate with gun safety regulators, the cries against them were loud and effective. And they came from the NRA.

One of the many transgressions of Smith & Wesson was their agreement to back research into firearm safety technology.

That the NRA had left its membership, that it had become an industry organization, was somewhat reinforced by informal opposition to the development of that same smart-gun technology. The use of biometric identification – fingerprints – to restrict a handgun to use by its owner would seem non-controversial. Keyless automobile technology is moving toward fingerprint identification. Why could that not work for firearms?

It fit the ideology and familiar slogans – individual freedom, 2nd Amendment honorifics. It would remove one incentive for gun regulation – the theft and criminal use of firearms. And it would remove that corollary incentive for home invasion – the theft of resalable guns. Of what use will a violent criminal find for a gun that cannot be used except by its owner?

But new technology, with the new competition that could be engendered among technology developers, met with fierce opposition. The official position of the NRA was one of indifference. But public figures generated background noise against new identification technology.

Consider one segment on NRA radio.

I’m not impressed by smart guns either. At least I’m not impressed, Charles, by the arguments that we’re hearing by the anti-gun advocates as to why smart guns are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Host Cam Edwards was introducing Charles Cooke, the editor of National Review Online. In an article entitled “Smart Guns are Dumb,” Mr. Cooke had recently excoriated then Attorney General Eric Holder after his testimony before a congressional committee for, in part, saying this:

Vice President Biden and I had a meeting with a group of technology people and we talked about how guns can be made safer.

By making them either through fingerprint identification, the gun talks to a bracelet or something that you might wear, how guns can be used only by the person who is lawfully in possession of the weapon.

Most of Mr. Cooke’s response was philosophical. The government should stay out of private affairs. One rhetorical exception was this:

Holder’s faith in technology is touching. There currently exists a grand total of one “smart” gun — an expensive German product that comes only in a weak caliber that is wholly unsuitable for self-defense.

That the Attorney General favored research into and development of future technology may have escaped Mr. Cooke. Research by the US government into electronic communications had resulted in the internet, after all, and there had existed not even one URL page when they started.

Mr. Cooke’s best argument was that government ought to restrict itself to primal duties. As he said in that later interview:

First thing is, not to sound all constitutional and all, but this really is none of the government’s business and, as a general principle, the nature and the safety of the firearms that you have in your home, beyond basic regulation.

It should be remembered that the biggest gun safety advocates are, of course, the firearms companies themselves, because they don’t want to produce products that are dangerous.

But the basic safety of a firearm is very clearly not the role of government, especially when it comes to electronics and GPS tracking devices and so on and so forth.

I really struggle to imagine the founding fathers saying: Yes the federal government exists so that GPS tracking and disabling devices are on the nation’s farms.

I especially liked the part about the biggest gun safety advocates being gun manufacturers themselves.

Elizabeth MacBride, writing for Forbes Magazine, recently asked why gun manufacturers would not themselves develop higher-tech guns. Most in the industry told her the technology was unreliable and the market would be too small. She pushed industry spokespeople a little more, asking “why the market couldn’t be a solution to the question of how viable the technology is – consumers, after, accept risks that products will fail all the time.”

She could not obtain a coherent answer.

Under pressure, largely from the NRA, Smith & Wesson eventually backed off and rejoined the brotherhood.

What impresses me is the rhetorical excess that is routinely employed by the National Rifle Association. Immediately after the tragedy at the Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and staff were killed, Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA expressed his shock and dismay.

Just a week ago, we were all horrified by another terrible tragedy at an American school. Each and every member of the National Rifle Association mourns the loss of the innocent and continues to keep their families and that community in our prayers.

But he had a point to make.

As usual, the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain.

Without any apparent sense of irony, he did not waste time in exploiting the tragedy for political gain, identifying the exploiters by name:

Chris Murphy, Nancy Pelosi, and more

… explaining what they hate …

They hate individual freedom.

… and to what they are indifferent …

In the rush of calls for more government, they also revealed their true selves. The elites don’t care, not one wit about America’s school system.

The in-school murders play into a grand scheme:

But you know what? The shameful politicization of tragedy, it is a classic strategy, right out of the playbook of a poisonous movement.

Mr. LaPierre’s argument that anti-gun activists were eagerly exploiting the recent shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School began to collapse when those ruthless, uncaring exploiters turned out to be the very students who had been under fire.

There are more legitimate arguments suggested by more responsible gun owners.

One that makes emotional sense points to crime. Violent crime is decreasing, but fear of crime is amplified in our age of instant media. Anecdotal evidence is not the strongest evidence, but it is often most persuasive. Video often trumps dry statistical data.

And there is statistical evidence that many of us find compelling. From a cost and benefit point of view, the purchase of a gun might be a loser. It will be more likely to result in the death of the owner or a family member than an intruder or an on-the-street antagonist.

So if the issue was simply of safety, we would have cause to ponder. But a careful reading might reveal a more basic issue, at least for some.

Anecdotal evidence can be revealing because of what it reveals about us. It isn’t danger that seems to motivate at least some gun owners. It is helplessness in the face of danger.

If I simply do not want to die before my time, I would rely on police and common sense, imperfect as they are, to keep me alive. A gun would reduce my chances.

But if I do not want to die helpless and afraid, I might want to purchase a firearm and learn to use it with some measure of safety.

I do not need to demonize those who make a different choice, or who simply want the ability to make that choice.

The NRA, representing as they do, corporate manufacturers; presenting as they do, a subterranean fear of the enemy that surrounds us, is running into trouble. Membership dues are in decline. Corporate donations are in an even steeper decline. Their sponsors no longer seem to see them as effective agitators.

In a reminder of my younger days, they have announced a bit of bad news.

They will no longer provide coffee to those they employ.

Many thanks as always to our friends at FairandUnbalanced.

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Posted by on December 2, 2018. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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4 Responses to How the NRA Killed the Coffee

  1. Michael John Scott Reply

    December 2, 2018 at 11:35 am

    It makes me happy that the NRA is beginning its long slide down the rabbit hole, and people are paying less attention to their “message” and more attention to their nonsense. While I’ve no doubt it will take years, if not a generation or two, I anticipate the day when the NRA will be no more, and guns for all will disappear into the void.

    • Glenn Geist Reply

      December 3, 2018 at 9:15 am

      I hope so, although I really support ownership for most people and some weapons. It’s to be remembered that the second amendment is about the militarization of the public and any attempt to limit what we permit will see opposition by the people who think ownership is an important and maybe the only guarantee of liberty or personal safety. I don’t agree, of course, but it will continue to be a major impediment to civilization in America for the foreseeable future. Of course getting rid of the NRA and other “rabble rousers” foreign and domestic wouldn’t hurt.

  2. Glenn Geist Reply

    December 3, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Yes, me too and if it’s true that they’ve been taking Russian money for the purpose of keeping us all at our throats and heavily armed I hope the collapse carries with it the shame it deserves. All this patriotic prattle from foreign agents is criminal.

    Some of us are old enough to remember A.E. Van Vogt’s The Weapon Shops of Isher from the 1950s. The premise was that everyone should have one because the right to buy weapons was the right to be free. That’s just how many people feel today, even though I question the idea that they are the majority, or even “typical.” It remains a work of very implausible science fiction in my opinion.

    I do have some background in electronics and I’m confident that current proposals for a firearm requiring the user wear some battery operated device and be encumbered by some additional battery operated device built in for it to work will mean that only the police would use them – and they won’t like it. I’m sure that idea pleases some people, but I’m also sure that no one would consider owning one, either as a sporting weapon, or for self protection. Anything we could produce now is science fiction at best.

    But I agree that owning many weapons does carry a risk and that for nearly anyone it’s not a risk worth taking – a long history of mob hits being evidence that it won’t help you. None the less, it’s my opinion that a great many and perhaps a majority of gun owners don’t think of buying a Glock to carry around. Perhaps I’m wrong, but even if the AK and Armalite owners are a minority they’re certainly in the news and they’re mostly the constituents of the NRA cult.

    If some reliable technology does ever emerge however, would it matter when there are at least 300 million weapons and perhaps more out there? Even more than that if you include guns like mine that are muzzle loaders and not even classified as firearms for most purposes? I don’t think so. I think they would be grandfathered in legally or de facto.

    In short, I don’t think there’s a single factor or a simple solution and “smart guns” aren’t part of it.

  3. Bill Formby Reply

    December 3, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    Part of this goes back to the fascination that early America held with the wild west and the outlaws and gunfighters. A gun was the answer to everything. America itself was based on violence as a way of life. It started with “there is all this land and we want it for us so we will take it”. That is the way the world was working then. Between the diseases we brought and the technology we had the residents of this country did not stand a chance. The violence in the East involving the immigrants was as bad back, or perhaps worse, as it is now. Now days everyone thinks that having a gun is the Godsend to keeping them safe in a turbulent world when, in fact many are harmed by their own guns. Guns do not guarantee freedom it simply builds a fortress of their homes. How many people are stocking up on guns and provisions waiting for civilization to break down while the one thing that will bring down civilization is violence most likely through the use of guns. As several of us have said on this site more than once. We have found the enemy and he is us (Pogo).

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