From Their Cold Dead Hands

The idea of terrorists with guns is not a pleasant thought, and considering how gung-ho Americans are about fighting terrorists, common sense dictates that we would do everything possible to ensure that they don’t get their hands on any. If that’s the case, then leading members of the NRA do not have common sense.

There is a “terror gap” at the moment, one that allows people on the terrorist watch list to easily buy guns without so much as a second glance on the part of the seller. It’s good business for the person selling the gun, but bad news for our national security interests. But why is it that the same people backing the Republican Party, and the same people that had the nerve to lower the gun rights scores of congressmen if they voted for health care reform – which naturally has an obvious link to gun rights – are fighting efforts to make it harder for terrorists to get guns? I cannot even begin to guess, but I will give the NRA credit for staying consistent; they want everyone to have a gun without limits, no matter what.

In recent memory, the gun battle has surfaced again and again, to a large extent for no good reason. So far, President Obama has signed a bill that included a provision allowing people to carry guns into national parks. Setting aside how absurd that part of the law is, it’s even more absurd that gun rights advocates insist that Obama is somehow plotting to take their guns away.

These same ignorant people had the gall to show up outside of a town hall event where the president was speaking with guns! They strapped them to their legs or carried them out in the open at several rallies and town halls last summer. When these people were questioned, they didn’t feel there was anything wrong with their decision to bring guns to crowded public events. Naturally, the NRA encouraged this activity and considered it a brave stand for Second Amendment rights. Now, its leaders are encouraging the loophole to remain open, but this time, they’re alone.

No matter how many times the NRA claims that its members are against the terror gap being closed, do not believe them – their members have more common sense than that. At the end of last year it was revealed that 82 percent of NRA members support “prohibiting people on the terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns,” and 69 percent favor “requiring all gun sellers at gun shows to conduct criminal background checks of the people buying guns.” So they won’t win the argument that they have their members backing them up.

The NRA has also called the proposal to close this terror gap “21st century McCarthyism” and claims that the term ‘terrorist’ is being abused in order to pursue a gun-control agenda. Really? This is one of the few times the term terrorist is not being abused. Perhaps if the no-fly list or the terror watch list suddenly added a few thousand Americans out of the blue and prevented them all from buying guns, the NRA would have a point. But there’s a reason the list exists and why people are put on it, and it is not an undue burden to keep these people from getting their hands on weapons.

Perhaps the biggest red flag is that Sarah Palin is supporting the NRA on this. If Palin thinks it’s a good idea, then there’s a problem. Rather than bolster her national security credentials, she chose to excite a crowd at an NRA rally and blab about how Obama and the democrats would “gut” the Second Amendment if they thought they could get away with it. Considering that common sense notes that people shouldn’t take anything she says seriously, maybe it’s actually a good thing that she didn’t support closing the terror gap.

We’ve known for a long time that Republicans are best at wedge issues, but now we’ve seen what happens when two of those wedge issues conflict. In the battle of guns vs. terrorists, the guns have won, and perhaps that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Gun rights advocates and gun lovers have a lot more influence than national security advocates thanks to the immense power of the NRA. That seems a bit backward, but their basic mantra is “Obama is always wrong,” and since the Obama Administration is currently in charge of national security issues, clearly this take-the-guns-away-from-the-bad-guys thing is just a ploy to steal your guns.

Kerry Wakely is a second-year political science major. He can be reached at kwakely@uci.edu.