(Opinion) — I stayed glued to the TV news accounts of the fatal shootings at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last Friday, except to re-read an email that recently arrived in my inbox.
It was a fundraising letter from Dudley Brown, president of the Virginia-based National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), asking me to renew my membership. Which is strange, because as a gun-control advocate I certainly don’t belong to the organization and I’ve never given it a dime. I guess they just flood thousands of strangers with emails with the hope of landing new members and more cash.
But the offensive first paragraph got my blood boiling, which is probably another one of Brown’s goals: completely outrage opponents. “Gun grabbers are still scheming to ‘cash in’ on the grisly work of bloodthirsty madmen by trying to disarm law-abiding gun owners,” Brown wrote.
Given the tragic mass shooting in Colorado Springs that day, and all of the other highly publicized murders our nation has witnessed in recent years, I was in no mood for such nonsense. But I read it anyway, because I couldn’t believe anyone could get away with lying so blatantly to lure gullible opponents of even minor gun restriction laws into sending him a check.
I did a bit of research to learn more about Brown and his nonprofit NAGR. He was born in Wyoming in 1965, raised in South Dakota, but most of his political mischief has taken place in Colorado, where he’s also set up shop as the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO).
Brown has long been a thorn in the side of many Colorado Republicans who owe their election victories to endorsements and campaign checks from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Yes, you read that last sentence right. Brown bills his group as the “conservative alternative” to the NRA, which is the blood enemy of the NAGR. It’s difficult to imagine, but Brown is far to the right of the nation’s largest gun rights organization. He thinks it has capitulated too much with liberal politicians. No, I don’t know what he’s smoking.
The NRA is generally considered one of the most influential groups in Congress, but the NAGR spends twice as much money on lobbying. My apologies to the National Rifle Association. I thought you were the most extreme gun-worshiping group in America, but you pale compared to the NAGR. Its motto is “no compromise,” and its leader means what he says.
Brown’s group believes the Second Amendment conveys an absolute right for people to own any firearm they desire and openly carry it anywhere they want. Of course one might need some help carrying a nearly six-foot .50-caliber rifle or other military weapons by himself, but Brown says no government has the power to keep citizens from owning them.
“We say, why shouldn’t you be able to have this freedom? Why shouldn’t you be allowed to own a .50-caliber or a machine gun?” Brown asked Denver’s Westword newspaper in 2001, just days after the Sept. 11 attacks. He was sponsoring a “Fun Day” in eastern Colorado demonstrating massive weaponry and the destruction it can cause, apparently to brighten the state’s spirits.
“Common sense” probably doesn’t apply to Brown’s followers, but does anyone actually believe the Second Amendment allows personal ownership of weapons that should only be in the hands of the military?
On the other hand I’ve heard people argue that it’s perfectly OK to hunt using a machine gun, so I guess the answer is yes, they do exist.
What really galls me, though, is that Brown has the audacity to claim “gun grabbers” are trying to “cash in” on mass murders and take away people’s guns. Brown raises funds by shamelessly evoking the deaths of people murdered with assault weapons with 100-round magazines. It’s a lucrative business for him: NAGR raised $16.4 million in 2013, the latest year I could find their tax information.
Brown opposed an NRA-endorsed Colorado bill to increase the limit on magazines from 15 rounds to 30 because he thought it wasn’t nearly enough ammo.
When told by a reporter that Aurora, Colo., movie theater gunman James Holmes had purchased 6,000 rounds leading up to the night he shot dozens of people, killing 12, Brown replied, “I call 6,000 rounds running low.”
I dare Brown to tell his smart-aleck “joke” in person to Aurora survivors and victims’ families. They’d run him out of town on a rail.
Here are more sure moneymakers from Brown’s email:
“The truth is, the stakes couldn’t be higher for Second Amendment supporters than they are right now. After all, the ONLY reason you and I have fought off President Obama’s anti-gun assaults throughout his two terms in office is politicians’ pure FEAR [of] what would happen to them at the ballot box should they dare to cross us.”
Barack Obama is a gun-grabber? Then why did he sign a bill that now makes it legal to carry guns in national parks? In 2012, 72 percent of all enacted gun laws actually loosened restrictions. The truth is there are no more restrictions on gun ownership than before he took office in 2009. Incredibly happy gun manufacturers, though, have made enormous profits from easily hoodwinked gun owners by merely mentioning the president’s name.
Brown’s email continued: “They continue to tout poorly worded polls claiming 90 percent of Americans support new gun control schemes, and say the real test will be in 2016, when voter turnout is likely to be sky-high.”
Numerous professional pollsters have found between 85 and 92 percent of Americans support expanded background checks for private gun purchases. Gun-control measures are winning in states, too. Oregon and Washington prevailed in background check fights this year. Laws to carry concealed weapons without a permit failed in 15 out of 18 states.
Another line from the email: “As Thomas Jefferson stated, ‘The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.’ In other words, freedom dies the moment patriots like you stop fighting.”
That loud noise you just heard was Jefferson and other founding fathers rolling over in their graves. Remember, these guys never saw an AK-47. If they could see what Brown and his ilk are doing in their names, I think they would say in unison, “Have you people lost your minds?”
Brown filled his email with all sorts of bogeymen who want to jump through your window and take all of your guns, leaving you totally defenseless: “One-world globalists” at the United Nations, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, anti-gun billionnaires Michael Bloomberg and George Soros, Congress, the media, gun-free zones, and sell-out Republicans.
He hasn’t forgotten the other major party. “There’s a time to hunt deer,” he told NPR. “And the next election is the time to hunt Democrats.”
To sweeten his deal, Brown said those who renew their NAGR memberships now will have a chance to win a Savage .338 Lapua rifle package valued at $3,792.
Here’s my reply to Dudley Brown:
“Thanks so much for writing to me. You obviously spent a lot of time on your email, and I don’t want you to think it’s not appreciated. You can give my raffle ticket for the rifle package to an actual member of your little club. I can’t join and I never will, but I’ll make this pledge: I’ll donate 1,000 times more to the NAGR than I did last year. Heck, make it a million times more, every year!”
“You don’t have to thank me. It’s the least I can do for my new pen pal.”
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