Gun Owners of America Celebrates Defeat of Gun Control Amendments

Gun Owners of America is rejoicing this morning, following the defeat of (among other amendments) the Manchin-Toomey Amendment that would have expanded background checks for gun sales:

You guys did it. We all did it – together!

For four months, the laughing hyenas on MSNBC and in the White House have been cackling hysterically about the “bitter clingers” who actually own guns and value the Second Amendment.

Well, who’s laughing now?

GOA proudly promoted the lie that the amendment would have created a national gun registry. From Jennifer Steinhauser at the New York Times this morning:

As for the N.R.A., while some saw the group’s leader, Wayne LaPierre, as meandering and on defense after the Connecticut school shootings in December, seasoned lawmakers heard something far more telling: the group, which once supported new background checks, would no longer abide them. As a result, before a single hearing, bill or speech on the Senate floor, the legislation was in grave trouble. Then the Gun Owners of America chimed in, attacking Republican senators who showed any interest in compromise, arguing that a national gun registry would arise from the bill.

The Senate’s rapid dismissal of what just weeks ago seemed the most achievable goal — a measure to extend background checks to gun buyers not currently covered by the federal system — sent the question of how and if to regulate firearms back to the states, where new laws both to restrain and expand gun rights are now fermenting.

GOA is proud of the attention it has received of late, particularly for how it has managed to yank the NRA further to the right. At the top of this morning’s alert, it cites Steinhauser’s previous reporting on its lobbying against background checks:

Schumer’s spokesman Brian Fallon took note of Gun Owners of America’s role in the debate, tweeting a link to the [New York] Times profile and saying the group ‘is making deal on even background checks extremely hard.’” – TPM Media, “Democrats Blame Gun Owners of America for Gun Control Setback,” April 8, 2013

Julie Ingersoll and I profiled GOA back in 2010, when it celebrated another victory, the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago. As the Times noted in an editorial earlier this month, the group’s executive director, Larry Pratt, said in an interview for that piece that when it comes to firearms, “we’re not really talking about a right but an obligation, as creatures of God, to protect the life that was given them.”

In 2011, at a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, Pratt presented then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) with a “Defender of the Second Amendment” award. Paul’s son, now Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who this week had the gall to say President Obama was using the Newton families as “props,” was looking on. 

Pratt’s speech in giving the elder Paul an award (transcribed it below) is filled with conspiracy theories, falsehoods, and snide denunciations of “servile” liberals:

[T]here’s an attitude in places of government centers, folks there kind of assume they’re the rulers and we’re the subjects. We don’t have kings, we don’t have nobles, but we have the functional equivalent of that in this country, federal, state, and local level. . . .  

The Swiss have a saying that kind of symbolizes what the Second Amendment is all about. The emblem of a free man is a rifle. I met just the opposite mentality, the servile, subject mentality in the person of one of the victims of Virginia Tech, survived, and he’s now working for the Brady Campaign. And he said, “I don’t want to have to feel safe because of something I’ve got on my hip.” And I was thinking, “that’s right, you don’t want to be self-reliant for anything, do you. You’re a little liberal to the core, liberals want the government to do everything for them,” and certainly it starts with the protection of life, the most important thing an individual can do.

Let me just give you an example—this goes on year after year—Dr. Paul has been a consistent promoter of Second Amendment legislation. He’s already mentioned the United Nations, well, he’s got a bill to get us out of the United Nations, he doesn’t just talk about it. And the reason the Second Amendment folks are so interested in that is because the UN right now, under Hillary Clinton, the State Department, excuse me, is at the UN, under Hillary Clinton, trying to get a treaty put together that would grab our guns. It would take a lot of the guns that we now own away from us because they are not suitable for sporting use, and they would register all the rest. Since registration has never solved a crime in Canada, or in Hawaii, where they have registered handguns since the ‘30s, I wonder what they want that registration list for. I think most of the rest of the world has experienced what they want it for. It’s a grab list when the government decides that the subjects are getting a little uppity.

A rifle is the emblem of a free man. So what does that make the guy that had his rifle taken away from him? A victim of a coup d’etat. If he was a ruler and he had his gun taken away—we’re the rulers! We’re the ones who employ wonderful people like this [Paul] but a lot of their colleagues think that actually once they got elected into office somehow they’ve been transformed into some sort of wonderful knowing all-seeing, all-caring, and that’s how we get into so much trouble.

Well, they come up with a lot of bright ideas like we don’t want guns around children, so let’s have gun-free school zones. Do you know where most of the mass murders have occurred in the United States? In gun-free zones. There’s an exception or two but typically it’s where the bad guy has reason to think he’ll have a monopoly of force. It has to be one of the most stupid laws on the books, and yet we’ve had so much inertia because we don’t want guns around children especially when the bad guy is the only who has one. It defies logic, but then being a liberal doesn’t necessarily require being logical, you just feel good, so that’s okay.

Congressman Paul has another bill, it does a number of things, but the one that I’d like to just focus on quickly, it would take away from our federal law that we’ve had in there for decades that determines what, how people would be allowed to import a gun from abroad, only if it’s suitable for sporting use. Do you know where that concept came from? From the Nazi German 1938 gun control law. It’s socialist to the core, it’s a Nazi concept that Senator Dodd’s father, Sen. Thomas Dodd, had brought back from the Nuremberg Trials where he had been prosecuting. And he had it translated into English shortly after that, the 1968 Gun Control law became law. So we’ve got a lot of really foreign concepts in our code, and what a refreshing, refreshing thing it is to have a longtime member of Congress have these ideas of restoring the constitution and restoring the integrity of the Second Amendment.

So it comes to the time that was advertised for my being here. It says, Dr. Ron Paul, defender of the Second Amendment, awarded for his many years of defending the Second Amendment and promoting measures to roll back unconstitutional gun control laws, 2011.

Procedurally speaking, the gun control efforts were killed because of the Senate’s warped fillibuster rules. But the GOA is using those warped rules to its advantage, and celebrating. Read Pratt’s speech for yourself. That’s the thinking that drove the Senate to its shameful collapse yesterday.

Will it be a wake-up call, though? Michael Tomasky thinks the gun lobby has overreached:

Every strong political movement, besotted with the fragrance of its own power, hits the point of overreach, and the pro-gun movement hit that point yesterday in the morally repulsive Senate vote on the background-checks bill. We all know the old cliché that the National Rifle Association has power because its members vote on the guns issue, while gun-control people aren’t zealots. Well, Wayne LaPierre and 46 craven senators, that “majority” of the Senate, have just created millions of zealots, and as furious as I am, I’m also strangely at peace, because I’m more confident than ever that the NRA will never, ever be stronger in Washington than it was yesterday.

One can hope. But don’t underestimate the zealotry of a different kind.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email