I’m a movie fan. I love off-beat films, films that pay tribute to older films, films that make me laugh out loud. But I especially like films that make me stop and think. Years ago, I saw a couple of flicks like that. One was called Matinee, with John Goodman as a schlock movie producer, trying to promote a cheesy horror film in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It seemed that most people had a little too much on their minds to appreciate the finer points of rubber monster costumes, fake blood and the like. So Goodman’s character dreams up a scheme to get the town interested. He goes big with his ads and gimmicks, including installing trick seats in the theater, a nurse and ambulance stationed to help anyone that faints from the excitement of the film, and so on. But his best trick comes when concerned parents stage a protest before the film even opens. The crowd is whipped up to a frenzy, when Goodman challenges one or two of the townsfolk to screen his film before they condemn it. But it turns out the entire protest is a sham – the rabble-rousers actually work for Goodman (and don’t even hail from the town in question). It’s a trick to stir up interest in the film. He creates controversy by creating a conflict where there was none.
Another film I was thinking about today was one by M. Night Shayamalan. Unbreakable stars Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. The premise here (spoiler alert) is that every superhero must have a nemisis, for without the yang to his yin, he has no reason to exist. You can see this logic in any superhero comic book. Batman has his Joker and Penguin, Superman his Lex Luthor, and Spider-Man has his Doc Octopus and Green Goblin. No villans, no need for heroes. And that got me to thinking about the NRA . . .
Recently, I’ve heard some rumblings that the NRA has gotten a wee bit complacent, and hasn’t operated as the Defender of Our Second Amendment rights, as expected. Some think they’ve been a bit “soft” on legislation. For example, supporting provisions in proposed legislation that would ban those that have mental illness diagnoses from owning guns.
To make the superhero analogy clearer, lets call the NRA a superhero and folks like Mayor Bloomberg, George Soros, the Brady Campaign, and others as their nemeses. Or if you’re cynical, you could liken the NRA to Goodman’s producer in Matinee, where he realizes that he needs conflict in order to sell tickets . . . er . . . memberships.
[Full disclosure: I’m an NRA.]
You see, in order to do that voodoo that they do so well, the NRA needs members and potential members stirred up to a fever pitch. Big conflict = big donations = big war chest. And that’s where I have the concerns. If the NRA slays the dragons and the threat is gone, then what next?
The worst thing that could happen to the NRA would be for them to win, completely and convincingly. Once the threat is gone, there’s no need to fund the organization (or at least it’s PAC) and contributions would fall like a clay pigeon that escaped the skeet shooter’s aim. I’m not saying they’d go away, but they would likely exist as a vastly-smaller organization.
Now nothing that I’m saying here is meant to deny the very real threat Americans face regarding our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. The NRA provides vital support to defeating bad laws like the D.C. and Chicago gun laws – laws that overreach and deny honest, law-abiding citizens rights, ostensibly to make cities safer by severely limiting access to guns. Add to it the pending, proposed UN regulations to control the sale of guns, the Katrina gun grab, and other such events, and you have a compelling case in favor of the NRA.
That does not mean, however, that those of us on the pro-gun side of things shouldn’t keep an eye on the NRA, just to make sure they keep their collective eyes on the prize.
I think the best idea is to support the NRA—and other pro-gun organizations as well. By not keeping all our eggs in one proverbial basket, the other groups will serve to keep all of them sharp, focused, and ready to meet the challenges of those that would see us all disarmed and vulnerable.