Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Making the NRA look reasonable

I'm no fan of the National Rifle Association. The NRA has done a hell of a lot to make even talking about gun violence, much less doing anything about it, virtually a third rail for politicians. The group has on occasion acted like a rabid dog, irrational and slavering and, well, just clamoring to be put down.

These days, though, nobody has a monopoly on Teh Crazy on the far right. Even a reliably fanatical organization like the NRA can be upstaged — out-orthodoxed by even more fanatical people. The purer-than-thou group of the day is Open Carry Texas, which has attracted attention for its members' group visits to restaurants toting long guns.

A bunch of guys entering a fast-food restaurant with rifles slung over their shoulders tends to unsettle the other patrons. (It would certainly piss me off.) OCT and likeminded groups have induced a backlash: they've received negative publicity in the news and several restaurant chains have established "no guns" policies. The negative impression of gun owners that the open-carry groups are creating worries the NRA enough that it has bluntly criticized the groups.

Let's not mince words, not only is it rare, it's downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one's cause, it can be downright scary. It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.
OCT took exception to the NRA's criticism. OCT had a telling counter-critique that I'll paraphrase as, "Why'd you wait til after we stopped the demonstrations to bitch about them?!" What's getting all the attention, though, is the image of cut-up NRA membership cards and OCT's warning that more will follow if the NRA doesn't stop attacking a fellow gun-rights group.
"The more the NRA continues to divide its members by attacking some aspects of gun rights instead of supporting all gun rights, the more support it will lose," Open Carry Texas said in a statement published Monday on its Facebook page.
(The Facebook page was gone when I visited it an hour ago; I took this statement from the TPM piece.)

OCT paints itself as the upholder of absolute gun rights and the NRA as an accommodationist weasel. The rest of us see an NRA that looks sane next to a fanatical OCT.

If I were a conspiracy-minded sort, I'd wonder if OCT was a disposable front group designed to rehabilitate the NRA's battered image. Because let's not kid ourselves: it's a minor miracle to make the NRA look reasonable. (I detect the hand of alarmed gun manufacturers behind the NRA's newly-discovered common sense.)

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