David Coursin: Let the NRA feel our strength

  • National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 22. AP

For the Monitor
Sunday, March 04, 2018

The articles and letters published in the Monitor since the Parkland killings make it clear that there is no single solution that will stop these terrorizing events.

Meanwhile, many politicians and media sources make it hard to recognize this. Public discourse gets corralled into a face-off, usually between more gun control or better background checks, as if there is a single solution and we have to choose between these two.

This serves the NRA leadership well. Politicians who are supported by the NRA have come to believe that energy for real change will dissolve if they keep quiet, offer the same pale sympathies and wait as the public gets entangled in this either/or thinking.

Polling suggests that these tactics work. Public agitation wanes, and the NRA is able to carry on as if it is an invincible monolith. This pattern persists even though 90 percent of gun owners don’t even belong to the NRA and more than half of its members favor more effective background checks for any gun sale.

Seventy five percent of Americans believe Congress isn’t doing enough to reduce gun violence. Seventy five percent support more effective background checks. Sixty percent support more sensible gun ownership laws and even though Democrats and independents are more likely to favor this, 30 percent of Republicans would join them.

But here’s the rub: The majority that wants more sensible gun ownership doesn’t make as much noise as the small minority pushing for fewer restrictions, and it doesn’t donate nearly as much to support its cause.

That certainly describes me. I don’t contact my legislators often and persistently. I don’t donate to organizations pushing for more sensible policies. I don’t make gun violence a defining issue directing my vote. I’m not going to be that person any longer.

The NRA is not an invincible monolith. Rather, its opposition doesn’t know its own strength yet. The outspoken teenagers who survived the Parkland terror are challenging all of us in these too silent majorities to gather that strength and use it, starting now. We can personally work for more sensible gun ownership in a number of ways that would create change in New Hampshire and the nation.

Here are just a few:

1) Stop the sale of any accessory that creates a de-facto automatic weapon.

2) Stop the sale of any semi-automatic weapon to anyone under 21.

3) Restore concealed carry permits obtained through local police departments.

4) Stop reciprocity for concealed carry permits from other states.

5) Pass state laws prohibiting open carry anywhere near public schools, hospitals and polling places.

6) Repeal state laws that stop state agencies from reporting fully and accurately to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, NICS.

7) Fund the federal and state costs of providing accurate, timely reports to the NICS.

8) Require an NICS determination and a waiting period for all gun sales, wherever they occur.

9) Ask all owners of semi-automatic guns of any kind to register them in a public registry as an act of civic pride and support for the safety of our public spaces and institutions.

10) Fund early childhood services that can identify children at risk for dangerous acting out in the future and provide preventive measures to reduce that risk.

11) Contact credit card companies and banks to encourage them to limit the use of their services for the purchase of semi-automatic weapons or accessories like bump stocks.

12) Donate to organizations working for more sensible gun ownership: the Brady Campaign, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords Law Center, March for Our Lives, Moms Demand Action, to name a few.

These opportunities are just a sampling of actions that make a difference. Pick policies to support and contact legislators regularly and persistently about implementing them. No matter which issues we pick, everyone needs to show up personally on March 24 to participate in the March for Our Lives.

We will see our real strength for the first time if all of us, regardless of political affiliation, stand with the Parkland survivors: all kinds of people who own guns and who don’t, all over the country, publicly visible to ourselves and to everyone else. We will see the impact of that strength by making gun violence a defining issue influencing our activism and our votes from now on.

#NeverAgain. If not now, when?

(David Coursin lives in Northwood.)