“Are you going to take this?” That’s what National Rifle Association (NRA) Supreme Being Wayne LaPierre wants to know, via email. Apparently, Mssr. LaPierre just got the memo on the Chicago City Council’s post-McDonald package of gun control laws. “If you and I allow Mayor Daley’s attacks on freedom to go unchallenged, we’re going to see this new gun-ban strategy start to spread like a virus — city by city, county by county, and state by state all across America.” From there, we’re invited to link to an on-line “Emergency Gun Rights Survey.” The survey is a tissue of half-truths masquerading as questions. And I say this as a Second Amendment supporter; a blogger dedicated to telling the truth about guns. Shall we begin?

1. Do you agree with the United States Supreme Court that the Second Amendment means what it says — and guarantees an individual right to own and use firearms?

Looks like Wayne’s confusing the U.S. Supreme Court with Horton of Horton Hears a Who. While I think the Second Amendment is plenty damn clear, the Court’s McDonald decision singularly, spectacularly failed to reinforce that simplicity by providing clear guidelines on the Amendment’s scope. No word was sent to the Wisconsin legislature, for example, that the “bear” part of the Amendment means “to carry.”

While the McDonald decision struck down Chicago’s handgun ban, it left the door wide open to what it called “reasonable restrictions” on guns. It’s a portal through which Mayor Daley’s mob waltzed in. The NRA’s decision to make the Supreme Court the hero of this piece is entirely—OK, factually misplaced.

2. Four days after the Supreme Court affirmed the Second Amendment in its McDonald v. Chicago decision, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and the Chicago city council struck back with a massive package of roadblocks and red tape to make sure that law-abiding citizens would never be able to purchase or own firearms. Do you agree that these anti-gun restrictions clearly violate the Supreme Court’s McDonald decision?

The question signals the preferred answer, vilifies Daley and the Council and prompts a positive reply. Don’t get me wrong: if anyone on planet earth deserves scorn, it Daley and his cronies. But a survey must adopt a neutral tone to gather worthwhile information. This is as far from neutral as a Bugatti Veyron in top gear.

Point of fact: the Supreme Court didn’t affirm the Second Amendment. It incorporated it. Which is, in many ways, more profound. The court’s ruling means that the Second Amendment now trumps local and state laws. And yet there’s that damn “reasonable” clause. It’s extended the battle for gun rights by a decade or more. I shouldn’t say it, but perhaps the NRA will find some profit in that delay . . .

Meanwhile, the NRA question makes it sound as if the NRA and the Supreme Court are in full agreement that the Second Amendment is inviolable. As I outlined above, that’s so not so. And it’s more than a slightly misleading to say that the Chicago City Council’s new regs, which allow residents to purchase and own handguns, “clearly violate” McDonald. If only.

While I’m at it, what’s with asking survey takers to agree with the NRA’s interpretation of the Supreme Court’s McDonald decision? It’s the word “clearly” that rankles. It bullies the survey taker into blindly accept the NRA’s word for what the McDonald decision means, in an entirely condescending and mean-spirited sort of way.

3. Do you agree with the City of Chicago that the answer to violent crime is to deny law-abiding citizens their rights and their guns? Or, do you agree with NRA that the way to fight crime is to get violent criminals off our streets and out of our communities?

The City of Chicago wouldn’t say that restricting “law-abiding” citizens’ gun rights is “the” answer to violent crime. They’d say they’re trying to to restrict criminals’ access to firearms as part of their comprehensive plan to deal with violent crime. It’s one thing to criticize the City’s approach, it’s another to misrepresent it. Especially in an “objective” survey.

Even worse, the question portrays gun control and aggressive policing as mutually exclusive. The use of the collective “our” to describe the mean streets of Chicago is clever—making the question personal to people who’ve never been to The Windy City—but intellectually dishonest. No surprise there.

4. Should the United States Supreme Court take additional steps to force the City of Chicago to adhere to its McDonald ruling and ensure that law-abiding citizens have full access to freedom as the Court intended?

This is genuine head-scratcher (WTF in Internet-speak). The question assumes/displays a fundamental lack of understanding of how the American system of government works. The Supreme Court doesn’t “take steps.” It doesn’t issue edicts or send in the National Guard. It decides whether or not a particular law is constitutional. And . . . that’s it.

In any case, the Court’s McDonald decision didn’t guarantee “full access to freedom.” It struck down a city ordinance banning civilian ownership of handguns. I get the artistic license and passion and all that, but a survey isn’t the proper place for propaganda and mawkish sentiment.

5. Do you agree that the Obama Administration should enforce federal laws that provide mandatory jail time for convicted violent felons and drug dealers who carry guns?

First of all, “Do you agree” is a loaded phrase. It’s basically saying “Do you agree with the NRA” to a group of people generally inclined to agree with the NRA—on just about anything. And happy to let them handle the specifics.

Second., the NRA is referring to 18 U.S.C. § 922 : US Code – Section 922: Unlawful acts. Section (g) provides for a federal prison sentence up to 10 years for convicted felons caught with firearms. At the moment, if a felon is convicted of violating any given state’s gun possession restrictions, it’s considered a federal beef.

The arrangement works well enough. So why change it? More to the point, why would the NRA—an organization that sells “Don’t Tread On Me” flags—want the feds to take control of gun possession charges against convicted felons? Talk about centralization of power and opening the door to governmental abuse. Tea Party that.

6. Do you believe, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration claim, that our Second Amendment rights are somehow to blame for the drug wars now taking place in Mexico?

You hurt your what? When did Hillary Clinton or the Obama Administration say that the Second Amendment was creating the Mexican drug wars? Find me someone in the State Department or White House who doesn’t think the drug wars are the result of internecine warfare between rival criminal gangs, fueled by American demand for illegal drugs.

While the Obama mob has displayed an entirely misplaced fascination with the mostly mythical flow of illegal guns from America to Mexico, this one is a real stretch. At no point did anyone in the Obama administration suggest that citizens exercising their constitutional right to bear arms are “somehow” responsible for Mexican gun running. How could they be?

7. Do you agree that the Obama Administration should fully prosecute known criminals who cross our borders illegally and prey on law-abiding American citizens?

And what has this to do with gun rights, exactly? Nothing much, aside from the fact that the NRA’s base are arch conservatives (like me) who view illegal immigration as a festering sore on the body politic. Clearly, the NRA’s Emergency Gun Rights Questionnaire has gone completely off the rails thanks to a shameless sop to right wingers.

8. Do you agree that elitist politicians are more and more often taking the law into their own hands, and ignoring the Bill of Rights and the will of the American people?

I reckon this has something to do with Obamacare; I can’t think of any elitist politician involved in gun-related vigilantism, either for or against. This question gives ammunition to left-wing commentators who accuse the NRA of fomenting violent anti-government insurrectionism. Another major misstep in the [mock] pursuit of truth: appealing to the base’s base instincts.

9. Do you agree that the erosion of our basic American liberties is one of the biggest political issues that our country faces today?

Vague much? This question is another barely hidden condemnation of America’s political system. It rests on a debatable premise without any reference to something specific like, I dunno, guns. Sure, NRA survey takers can connect the dots: the American liberties in question include gun rights. But—

Americans’ gun rights are ascendant. From Wisconsin’s nascent concealed weapons bill to the defeat of California’s proposed ban on open carry to a similar drubbing for Massachusetts’ quest for a “gun a month” sales restriction, erosion ain’t happening. Might the NRA be bending the truth to raise money? Question 11 answers that question. Meanwhile . . .

10. Do you agree that NRA must take the lead role in overturning Chicago’s new gun-ban law and every other law that prevents law-abiding citizens from defending themselves against violent thugs?

Who the hell is going to say no to that one? It is, like all the questions before it: entirely rhetorical. I’m sure the answers to this survey will get all the respect they deserve from the people who wrote them. I’m thinking highlight and delete. The NRA will not present the results to the press; the media mavens would see through them in a Bloomberg minute. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a sham that doesn’t even do a very good job of pretending it’s not.

11. To help NRA lead this fight to protect and restore the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding Americans — through courtroom efforts, legislative battles, and a national media campaign to rally millions more gun owners to our cause — will you join NRA today?

Fact finding my ass. “Emergency Survey” my toches (same thing). This questionnaire is less valuable than one of Cosmo’s “Does He Think About You in Bed” tests. Only you don’t grade yourself and find an “answer” at the end. If it works as intended, you send the NRA a check.It’s all about membership > money > power.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone’s gotta earn a living, one way or another. My real objection: the survey fails to treat current and potential NRA members with honesty, dignity and respect. And that’s a shame.

NRA members are not the retards that their critics think them to be. Despite the money tree-rattling possibilities, the NRA’s leadership would be well advised not to reinforce this stereotype by acting as if it were true. Unless they want to chase off their more thoughtful members and gradually destroy their credibility. Just sayin’ . . .

7 Responses to NRA Survey Stacks the Deck

  1. Nice to see someone else thinks that the NRA's "surveys" are totaly useless and self serving.

    Best wishes

    NukemJim

  2. Mark these words:

    “All these cases are setting precedents for ‘reasonable regulations’ and will be applied as guidelines when, not ‘if’, a National Firearms Registration Act is enacted on the Federal level.”

  3. I'm a member of the NRA, and I often receive calls to answer "surveys." All of the questions I have ever heard have been asked with a certain slant. This is nothing new for them. Hopefully they will wake up and realize they don't have to "fix the fight" in order to win. They already have a compelling argument that can stand on its own merit.

  4. This type of BS has been going on since at least the 80's, with a big upswing in the Clinton era. I (to my shame) bought into it several decades ago. Now it just pisses me off. I let me membership lapse long ago, and only – very reluctantly – rejoined recently. A nearby gun range requires proof of membership to be a member. But because of the above, and the other dozen or so spam emails weekly, they won't get a penny more than basic membership fees from me.

    Oh, and I also fill out and send in every contest, drawing, raffle, etc. that includes the phrase "no donation needed to enter". It'll serve them right if I win (yeah, what are the odds).

  5. Producing “surveys” like this & then using the results to “prove” whatever point they have been designed to highlight is a waste of effort which could have been put to far better use elsewhere.

    I too took one look at it, shook my head & moved on.

    Come ON the NRA; you’re making socialist propaganda look sophisticated with this missive.

  6. AFAIK nobody takes these "surveys" seriously. In fact, I've grown rather tired of the histrionic mailers I get from the NRA warning me that if I don't take action immediately ("Take action" is NRA speak for "Send us money") then Obama and Janet Reno will kick in my door and pry my gun from my cold, dead hands.

    Now, having said that, I just renewed my membership and will continue to do so, and I proudly sport an NRA sticker on my car. I think the NRA is a worthwhile organization and does a lot of good work (McDonald and Heller, notably) so I can excuse their marketing strategy, even if I think it's not that effective (having no background in such matters, I'll defer to the experts in that regard.)

    Also as far as email goes: NRA mail went into my "Spam" folder long ago.

  7. Good points Robert. The NRA is nothing but a corrupt political lobby bent on perpetuating the conflict surrounding the 2nd Amendment, instead of winning it. They serve only to corral and confuse would-be supporters of true liberty into supporting their subversive cause.

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