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Bonnie Erbe: NRA shoots down reasoned gun control debate

Scripps Howard News Service Published: February 8, 2013 4:00 AM

An organization I utterly oppose has bestowed upon me an honor of the highest order. The National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action has put me on its enemies list, which it labels "National Organizations With Anti-Gun Policies."

The roster includes such organizations as the AARP, the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Catholic Conference (a likely reference to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops).

Much farther down -- after a long list of movie stars and celebrities -- comes a subtitle that reads "Anti-Gun Journalists." My name is listed among nearly 40 journalists that editorialize in favor of gun control laws. This is almost as good as a Pulitzer, but not quite.

All told, the NRA lists more than 500 entries.

The gun control debate is now stuck between the White House and Congress, and coming ever closer to bleeding to death. President Barack Obama wants legislation debated and passed now. Republican leaders want to delay until the horror of the Dec. 14 school massacre in Newtown, Conn., recedes.

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Congress should act -- now. Last month, Mayors Against Illegal Guns released a report calling for tougher regulation. "Access Denied" -- presented by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the group's co-chair and its largest funder --states that "for the past decade or so: the federal government has conducted almost no scientific research on how criminals get and misuse guns, or what policies are effective at stopping them; law enforcement has been prohibited from sharing analyses of crime gun trace data with policymakers and the press; and military leaders and doctors have been barred from talking about gun safety to people under their command or care. All of this, despite the fact that Americans murder each other with guns at nearly 20 times the rate of residents of other high-income countries."

Congress isn't keeping this critical data from the public by itself. Its NRA-dependent members are following the call of the gun lobby. The NRA is helping them craft the delay. Why? As I have stated before, the NRA has degenerated from civil rights organization to nothing more than a promoter of gun sales for gun manufacturers. Look behind each piece of legislation it sponsors or supports, and its background theme is "let's sell more guns."

Why on earth would the NRA otherwise have come up with its ridiculous solution to the Newtown massacre? It proposed having an armed security officer at each school in America as the best way to stop school shootings. The proposal was designed to sell hundreds of thousands more weapons to arm these guards.

Since the shooting, there has been wide support in Newtown for adding the officers to elementary schools since the shooting, the Washington Post has reported. Just last week, I'm sorry to report, the Newtown school board followed the NRA's lead. Members voted unanimously to request an armed guard for each of the district's four elementary schools.

Financial barricades may bring down that effort. But if school board members had had data showing that more guns are not the answer, they might have voted otherwise.

The NRA is responsible for distorting the debate over gun control -- and so are members of Congress who give blanket support to the organization.

(Bonnie Erbe, host of PBS' "To the Contrary," writes this weekly column for Scripps Howard News Service. Email bonnie.scrippshoward@gmail.com.)


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anonymous Feb 12, 2013 12:19 PM

All the rhetoric about guns, about illegal invaders, about dirty air and dirty water is a diversion from the fact that the economy is in shambles and getting much worse. We have bankrupt our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. The DC elite are not about to address the most urgent crisis facing us...because they are exempt!

anonymous Feb 9, 2013 7:56 AM

Redleg6, you are absolutely right, the problem is the behavior. People, following the models presented by our "leadership", are more and more intolerant of those of differing points of view. This intolerance makes it impossible for non-violent resolution of conflicts such as those Adam Lanza faced in his life.

While Erbe purports to seek reasoned debate, her opinion is one large ad hominem attack, more consistent with those who love tyranny than those who love freedom.

anonymous Feb 8, 2013 7:48 PM

Why can't folks understand that all of the laws man has created, made up in his own little pea-brain mind, after 6000 years of human experience and history, all of mans Laws and Regulations CANNOT CHANGE HUMAN NATURE!! Go after the Crazies, and leave our guns alone!! PS I might want to purchase an AK 47, WHY you may ask, because I CAN! It is in the Bill of RIGHTS! I am a Proud America. If AK's where available at Valley Forge, General George Washington would have trade-in his musket. Where is the outrage for the 55 million babies killed in America the last 40 years? Maybe there should be a ban on abortion tools, and baby killers! Just a thought

anonymous Feb 8, 2013 5:09 PM

Why can't conservatives understand that any new guns laws being proposed do not take away their guns? Just stop with the constitutional rights being infringed upon line.

Instead, present a scenario where that AK47 came in handy defending yourself in Ravenna.

anonymous Feb 8, 2013 10:47 AM

@matt; You said all!!! Thanks for your service! Welcome home!!

anonymous Feb 8, 2013 10:36 AM

Didn't Sandy Hook start instituting the NRA's recommondations?

anonymous Feb 8, 2013 10:16 AM

Why can't liberals understand that more gun laws has NO impact on criminals and mentally disturbed people. New laws only remove the ability og law abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families against these criminals. As a 22 year Army veteran, a career spent defending the Constitution of the US, my Constitutional rights are NOT up for negotiation in Congress or any other forum for any reason.