The N.R.A. has long argued that guns don’t kill people. There are plenty of responsible gun owners, many with automatic rifles that have not hurt anyone. They are the “good guys” who if positioned in or around our schools would be a deterrent. They have let their members know that their right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the Constitution is threatened and that it is imperative to support the N.R.A. and to buy some more weapons and ammunition. They know that given their level of support in Congress that the likelihood of gun loss is pretty remote. Even if a ban on semi-automatic rifles was instituted it would only impact new purchases, leaving the member with the multitude of such weapons he or she likely has.
Like most reasonable people I thought that the N.R.A. would offer a muted response following Sandy Hook. In doing so I ignored the N.R.A.’s professional public relations posture of controlling the debate and maintaining the “right to bear arms” hysteria. Following this note I have listed some of the N.R.A.’s large corporate financial supporters, particularly those that manufacturer semi-automatics or large clips. While the contributions are not small, on the scale of some of the large manufacturers, the amounts are relatively modest. The N.R.A. seems to be principally counting on membership fee, individual contributions and funds through programs like “round-up”, where weapon and gun related buyers donate their change to the N.R.A. when they make a purchase. The more the hysteria, the more members. The more the hysteria more “round-up” revenue through increased gun and ammunition purchases.
The N.R.A. did not always have corporate sponsors, but it is now more about revenue raising then about truly supporting hunters and target shooters. While there are still geographical areas of the country that have crime problems that might justify ownership of a hand-gun by a well trained owner, the self-defense argument upon which their legal defense of weapons are based following the Supreme Court’s Heller decision seems less realistic. For this reason, the N.R.A. jumped on Sandy Hook, which like other mass shootings, is a catastrophic rather than frequency risk. Although Aurora, Sandy Hook and other tragedies due to their high profile severity raise self-defense concerns, they are still infrequent compared to other violence with weapons. Clearly a hand gun would do as protection in the vast majority of circumstances. Most gun owners would not be using semi-automatic rifles for protection.
So the defense of semi-automatics by the N.R.A. has to be focused on cause of the violence. Even those who want to ban semi-automatics focus on cause. It is mental health; it is lack of registration; weak or no background checks; the media in all forms. The list goes on. Clearly these need to be addressed, but they also distract from the principal difference between semi-automatics and other guns. The N.R.A. is correct that no ban on semi-automatics will stop these catastrophes. A ban would still leave many such weapons on the street. The weapon wasn’t the cause of Sandy Hook. It was the result.
The issue is not cause. The issue is means. The problem with the semi-automatic and large clips is the ability to cause a mass tragedy in a few seconds. Even with an armed guard, if the timing is not right, the line of sight not clear, the same damage will be done. It is a weapon with far too much firepower for any hunter, target shooter or gun enthusiast to need in public. Rather than ban the weapon, why not restrict where it can be stored and used? Ownership would remain with the gun owner, but much like you can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre, the parameters of the Second Amendment would be tailored for public safety. The Heller case already recognized geographic limitations on carrying a loaded weapon (oddly enough mentioning schools in this regard).
A few suggestions:
• Permit the possession and usage of semi-automatic rifles only at licensed gun ranges; licensed gun/hunt clubs; and at sanctioned events controlled by such ranges or clubs using best practices.
• Only permitted individuals (including those being instructed by instructors qualified in such weapons) can shoot such weapons on the premises of the licensed gun ranges/clubs and at their sanctioned events. Exceptions for law enforcement; licensed gun repairers; and manufacturers.
• Permitted individuals retain ownership of such weapon with the ranges and clubs being bailees. Individual has no right to possess weapon outside of licensed range/club or sanctioned event unless it is making one time physical transfer of an owned or possessed weapon to the licensed range/club.
• This would require licensing of such ranges and clubs by each state with random annual inspections to be sure of their safety and licensing program compliance.
• Guns would be registered with such ranges and clubs, with the owner’s name, model, serial number and other verified contact information.
• Upon purchase or gift, the gun would need to be directly transported by permitted common carrier to a licensed range/club on a national registry that would provide the dealer/seller/donor with a receipt.
• Those who presently own or possess such a weapon would need to transfer possession to the licensed range/club in the same manner as a seller or donor, when it is not personally delivered to such range/club.
• Transfer of the weapon by reason of sale, gift or otherwise shall only occur through licensed range/club to another licensed range/club, with each licensed range/club keeping records of the parties, permit and contact information and nature of the transfer.
• To assure compliance with these rules, an individual who owns or possesses such a weapon off premise of the licensed range/club and not during a licensed range/club controlled event, would be subject to both criminal and civil liability. This will require current owners to turn such weapons over to the licensed range or gun club of their choosing.
• In the event that anyone is injured or killed using such weapon unsanctioned and off premise, when not in actual self-defense, the seller, donor, owner (his/her/its intermediary) and possessor of that weapon will be strictly liable without indemnity (i.e., no insurance or other indemnity). The gun will be appropriated by law enforcement without restitution. It would also help if the bankruptcy laws were modified to prevent violators from escaping financial responsibility (treat them no better than student loans).
Admittedly having Congress enact such rules would be difficult. It may need to start at the State level, and on a volunteer basis by responsible gun owners. They no longer need to fund the N.R.A. revenue machine who pretends their guns are going to be taken away. They can worry less about suicides or violence in their homes with such weapons.
The N.R.A. and other gun organizers could concentrate on what they do best. Train gun owners about security and responsible ownership.
The following are a list of some major N.R.A. corporate funders. Many are private companies and I am sure that they may have different opinions about gun usage. Nonetheless, they support the N.R.A.’s posturing. Perhaps you may not want to invest in those corporations.
Assault Weapon Manufacturers who fund NRA
1. Arsenal, Inc. (100K-250K)
2. Benelli (500K-1M)
3. Beretta USA Corporation(1M-5M)
4. Browning (50K-100K)
5. DPMS Panther Firearms (50K-100K)-tactical rifles; long range semis
6. FNH USA (50K-100K
7. McMillan Group International (25K-50K)
9. Remington Arms Co., Inc.(25K-50K)
10. SIGARMS Inc.(25K-50K)
11. Smith & Wesson Corporation(50K-100K)
12. Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. (500K-1M)
High Capacity Ammunition Manufacturers and Distributors that are top NRA Contributors (Ring of Fire)
1. AcuSport Corporation (25K-50K)
2. Arsenal, Inc.(100K-250K)
3. Auctionarms.com, Inc.
4. Beretta USA Corporation (1M-5M)
5. Brownells (500K-1M)
6. Cabela’s (500K-1M)
7. CDNN Investments, Inc. (100K-250K)
8. Cheaper Than Dirt (25K-50K)
9. Collectors Firearms, Inc. (100K-250K)
10. Davidson’s, Inc. (250K-500K)
11. DPMS Panther Firearms(50K-100K)
12. Ellet Brothers, Inc.(25K-50K)
13. FNH USA (50K-100K)
14. Glock, Inc. (50K-100K)
15. Graf & Sons, Inc.(50K-100K)
16. McMillan Group International (25K-50K)
17. MidwayUSA * (5M-10M)
18. Natchez Shooters Supply (250K-500K)
19. Numrich Gun Parts Corporation (100K-250K)
20. ParaUSA (100K-250K)
21. Remington Arms Co., Inc.(25K-50K)
22. SIGARMS Inc.(25K-50K)
23. Sinclair International, Inc.(25K-50K)
24. Springfield Armory, Inc. (1M-5M)
25. Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.(500K-1M)
26. Smith & Wesson Corporation (500K-1M)
27. Widener’s Reloading & Shooting Supply, Inc. (50K-100K)
Other large NRA supporters:
1. Clayton Williams Energy, Inc. ($1M-5M)
2. Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, Inc. (1M-5M)
3. Big Sky Carvers (500K-1M)
4. Dillon Precision Products Corp, Inc. (500K-1M)
5. Leupold & Stevens, Inc. (500K-1M)
6. The Master’s Table (500K-1M)
7. Universal Coin & Bullion, Inc. (500K-1M)
8. Winchester Division- Olin Corporation (500K-1M)
9. Xe (500K-1M)
10. Doug Turnbull Restoration, Inc. (250K-500K)
11. Greg Martin Auctions (250K-500K)
12. Hodgdon Powder Company (250K-500K)
13. Lockton Companies (250K-500K)
14. Action Target (100K-250K)
15. Blackhawk Products Group (100K-250K)
16. Blue Book Publications, Inc. (100K-250K)
17. The Brunton Company (100K-250K)
18. Crimson Trace Corporation (100K-250K)
19. DBS International (100K-250K)
20. The Hampe Family Foundation (100K-250K)
21. Independence Tube Corp(100K-250K)
22. James D. Julia Auctioneers, Inc. (100K-250K)
23. Kamps Propane (100K-250K)
24. MetaMedia Training International, Inc. (100K-250K)
25. National Firearms Museum Store (100K-250K)
26. Nosler, Inc. (100K-250K)