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2/14/2013 The NRA Conceit

Okay, so about this whole gun issue thing.

Hardly anyone can deny that Custer County is a poster-child of sorts for guns and the National Rifle Association. We know residents who have world-class gun collections; hunting for many is not just a popular sport, it’s a lifestyle; you’d be hard pressed to drive down the street and not see racked-rifles in pickup trucks and It’s not unusual to see pedestrians carrying a six-shooter in a holster. Heck, we’ve even got a rifle and a shotgun propped up in a corner office here at the Tribune, even though the last time they were fired was probably 30 years ago. We wouldn’t be surprised if Custer County has one of the highest per-capita NRA memberships anywhere. And we dare say that most – most – of our citizenry are responsible gun owners, collectors and hunters.

Still, given the Newtown tragedy, the Aurora shootings and other gun related crimes, it’s easy to understand why recent polls show that a vast majority of Americans – including gun owners – are in favor of more stringent background checks and other regulations. But the current rather rabid leadership of the NRA screams bloody murder at the mention of any regulation. They blame the media, they blame video games, they blame any target they can think of when the subject is broached, and they deny any culpability. (Let’s not forget that while the NRA was indeed established by citizens in 1871 to promote the shooting sports, it became the hidden mouthpiece of the gun manufacturing industry a few decades ago to serve as its common-man voice to sell more guns.)

The NRA and other proponents of gun rights logically turn to the Second Amendment of the Constitution to support their perceived God-given right to keep and bear arms. But rarely do the second and third words of that concise amendment get much airplay: “WELL REGULATED.” In our mind, “well regulated” potentially means that some regulations are necessary.

How this will ultimately play out no one knows. But a few things are clear: there are nutjobs out there with arsenals. People are still dying every day from gun related crimes. And a whole lot of Americans are not comfortable with the arrogance, self-importance and blame-throwing tactics of the NRA.  Sadly, it’s the thoughtful and responsible gun owner who is being made the villain by the very organization they see as their Second Amendment savior.