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My Turn: Can the NRA really tell good guys from bad?

I have a question for the NRA: Will it kindly provide us with its formula for distinguishing good guys from bad guys?

It must have one; there are some 4 million NRA members, and most of them own guns. I don’t know about you, but if I were running an organization of 4 million gun-toters, I’d definitely want to screen out bad guys, so I’d figure out how to do that.

After all, how would it look if an organization that’s all about responsible, patriotic, Second-Amendment gun ownership turned out to have Jeffrey Weise (Red Lake, Minn., 2005) or James Holmes (Colorado, 2012) as members in good standing? What if Jared Loughner (Tucson, Ariz., 2011) or Steven Kazmiercsak (DeKalb, Ill., 2008) were NRA card-carriers?

In fact, what if any of the 60-plus mass shooters we’ve read about – or lost loved ones to – in the past 30 years were members of the NRA?

What a black eye that would be for such an upstanding club.

That’s what makes me sure that the NRA performs careful background checks before accepting applications from potential members. That’s what makes me confident that the NRA would instantly cancel the membership of anyone court-ordered into an anger management course, or charged with domestic violence or found hunting while under the influence.

And that’s how we can be confident that the NRA knows what it’s talking about when it tells us that all we have to do to protect ourselves and our kids is set up an armed good guy against every armed bad guy. It must know how to manage this; it represents 4 million gun owners. And if it can pull that off, it can surely help the rest of us tell the white and black hats apart.

So take a peek at the NRA membership application, which can be found and filled out online.

Here’s what the NRA wants to know about you before it will let you into its club: Your first, middle, and last names; your gender and date of birth; your email address, phone number and mailing address, including country.

It also wants some of your money. If you act fast, you can get a discounted one-year membership for only $25. If you want to pay by credit card, you’ll have to supply your card number.

That’s it. I looked hard for questions about arrest records, felonies, violent crimes or mental illness; if the NRA gives a hoot about your tendencies to road rage or hearing voices, it doesn’t show up on its application.

Maybe the NRA is willing to assume that membership automatically confers “good guy” status. I’d love to believe that’s true, but frankly, with a membership 4 million strong, the odds are simply not in the NRA’s favor.

(State Rep. Jane Hunt lives in Concord.)

Legacy Comments6

If they have legally purchased a firearm than thy have passed a background check. The only thing missing is their medical history which is not accessible due to the health info protection act. Want to mack a change? work on that instead of blaming inanimate objects or associations.

40% of legally-owned fire-arms in this country involve no background checks. Sales between private parties within the same state require no background checks in most states (California is one exception). Sales at gun shows involve no background checks in many states. In addition, even at a regular gun dealer, the "background check" for mental illness -- almost always a feature of mass shootings -- consists of checking "No" to the question, "Have you been institutionalized for mental illness?" (or words to that effect). The gun dealer has no way to verify this information even if he wants to. HIPAA rules do not allow institutions to confirm or deny that an individual has received treatment there unless the treated individual consents to release this information. How likely is that rare patient intent on violence to give such consent? Anyway, where would the gun dealer start this check, even if he had some way to do it? We have a highly mobile population, and hundreds of private and public mental health institutions across the nation. What if the customer's mental health records are stored several states away, or even in another country? The channels through which just about anybody can legally bypass "background checks" and legally own one or more firearms are vast and numerous.

Well, until you can actually document that an NRA member has done a mass shooting, you have nothing but more speculation and conjecture. Really, whats the point? Charactor assassination? You're all but sying the NRA harbors crimials, then they purge them when their names become public. Can you back any of this up? The more you anti's say, the more it becomes obvious you don't have a clue what you're talking about. You just think you do. I think it would be great if the lies being told by both sides of this debate ceased, and that we all start discussing this using facts. We are all adults, but an awful lot of us are not doing our homework, not fact checking before we start talking. There is much we can accomplish, but the personal attacks on one another have to stop. What you're doing isn't any different from the endless political attack ads we see for months before an election. Sound bytes with no base in facts.

Let them rail on about guns. I do not own a gun, have thought about it and am about to buy three now that I have to listen to the critics tell us that we should not have them. In my research I have found just how vast the gun economy is. If we outlawed guns, unemployment would sky rocket. People don't think about this either. I searched out gun safety courses, cost of rifles, types of targets and ammunition. I think to spend $1000 and take up gun ownership is not only wise but will be enjoyable from target shooting to hunting again. I can relive my childhood hunting and tracking in the woods. As for the NRA, they are not responsible for stopping the crazies from using a gun to kill someone. Progressive types don't understand it is like saying that a person with a baseball bat kills someone so now we need to regulate baseball bats. Good post and right on gdn 1.

It's an easy formula, you're a good guy with a gun unless your... A) Check doesn't clear B) Credit card is declined or C) You get caught killing someone. In case of "C" all membership records are purged.

"formula for distinguishing good guys from bad guys": Easy access to assault weapons with no background checks, promoted by the NRA, results in mass killings. Mass killings create fear and surges in assault weapon sales. New assault weapon owners (wearing one issue fear blinders) look at charts like this http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2012/12/17/where-the-senate-stands-on-guns-in-one-chart/ to make voting decisions. This formula seems pretty simple, but I think it's only one part of another formula that a handful of billionaires use mainly to convince one issue blinder low info voters to support huge Republican tax cuts (charged to the kids) for the handful of billionaires. History and current events around the world show how the wealth, power, and mass killings formula can get really out of hand. So here's a better formula for America: The only thing that stops bad guys with $billions is good guys with votes.

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