Published in The Orlando Sentinel on June 22, 1999.


The argument over gun-control measures is an argument over how many restrictions will be placed on the rights of honest citizens. The argument has nothing to do with the National Rifle Association.

The neo-totalitarians in America are nothing if not unoriginal. They follow a fixed pattern. They create a straw man, demonize the straw man, then frame the argument as a contest between good and the evil demon. In the case of gun control, the NRA is the designated demon. In the case of the illegal bombing of Yugoslavia, the designated demon was Slobodan Milosevic.

The NRA is one of America's oldest organizations, but it never intended to be a "gun lobby." That role was forced on the organization when politicians, beginning in the fatal 1960s, embarked on the continuing effort to disarm the American people.

The NRA was created in the 19th century by National Guardsmen for the purpose of encouraging marksmanship and gun safety. Its main functions today remain just that. The bulk of its resources are devoted to sports shooting, gun safety, collecting and hunting.

The purpose of demonization is to avoid an honest debate. Instead of proving the benefits of proposed gun-control legislation, gun-control enthusiasts simply assert that there are benefits and that only the evil NRA and its puppets oppose the bills. It is a handy technique when neither facts nor logic is on your side. Of course, unsaid by the neo-totalitarians, is that, even as a lobby, the NRA is way down on the list of lobbies both in terms of its influence and in terms of the amount of money devoted to lobbying. But, as part of the demonization, it is made out to be more powerful than it really is.

Another lie that is part of the demonization is the assertion that the NRA has an unreasonable or extremist position on any kind of gun legislation.Listen: The NRA has always been and continues to be a strong advocate of law enforcement and harsh penalties for the criminal use of a firearm. The NRA was advocating mandatory sentences for the criminal use of a firearm long before politicians were willing to consider it.

You will observe, however, that the gun-control crowd never backs tough enforcement but that it is always wanting to add more legislation to the more than 20,000 gun-control laws already on the books. That's because the controllers' true goal has nothing to do with crime. Their true goal is to prohibit the private ownership of firearms -- all firearms, if possible, but at least handguns.

But if gun control reduced crime, then America would have had more crime when there was no gun control and less crime after it was put into place. The exact opposite is the reality. That's because humans, not inanimate objects, commit crimes.

Americans who value freedom had better be more concerned about the gun-control crowd than the criminals. Criminals may want your money; the neo-totalitarians want your freedom. Suppose your neighbor showed up one day and said, "I don't trust you. I'm going to conduct a criminal-background investigation, and I'm going to make sure you have no firearms in your house." What would you think? Would you not be insulted? Would you not think that your neighbor may have some hostile intentions toward you?

Perhaps most Americans don't realize that, from 1776 to the recent passage of the Brady Bill, background checks for gun buyers was never a requirement. The Founding Fathers boasted that all Americans were armed. Of course, they governed free men, not a herd of sheep.