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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.

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  1. One might liken the arms industry to Goodman's character. The problem with selling guns is that they can last a long time. To get people to buy new ones you have to either surpass the old ones, or drum up new customers. Arms makers have done both. They've convinced us we need ever more potent firearms, and they certainly benefit from the controversy over gun control, in which the NRA takes on Gun Control advocates in an endless cage match.

    I thought Matinee was a hoot BTW.

    • I don't buy new guns because of advertising or hype, I buy them because I love to shoot. Guns are only advertised in gun magazines, so it's not like gun makers are luring in non-gun owners with their advertisements.

      I also agree Matinee was fun.

      • I'm always amazed that advertisers stay in business, because no one I know is actually influenced by advertising.

        • The advertisement for the KFC Double Down sandwich worked on me! I can't wait to get one of those. Mmm.

        • I eat out occasionally, but we've largely switched to slow food, made at home without all sorts of additives, salt and sweeteners. I bought my wife a bread oven and a Jack Lalanne juicer. Food tastes good again.

  2. I think it important to remind everyone that the NRA is responsible for enacting several compromise laws that should never have been considered. I believe I read that the 1986 gun control act was one of them – that includes the “no more machine guns” laws that have restricted any full-auto weapons from being licensed for civilian use under NFA rules and is directly responsible for the overnight escalation in “value” and cost of this class of weapons, since there is a finite supply of them. There wasn’t any rational reason to allow this to happen; it was purely an emotional piece of theater. In fat, the Hughes Amendment is questionable whether it was actually enacted legally or not, with “proof” on YouTube that the congressional procedures were violated when it was forced through in a hysterical day of legislating.

    The NRA gave its OK to all of that. Now we have to pay $10,000 for a Mini-Uzi SMG that should cost the same as a $2,500 SA weapon – if we can find one, thanks to the AWB against imports. This kind of crappy law-making violates the 14th Amendment in so many ways, I’m outraged that the NRA-ILA hasn’t fought it in the courts, along with all of the other BS laws we have to put up with. Moreover, it was private attorneys that got the job done in defeating illegal government restrictions in the Heller, etc. decisions – not the NRA. I don’t belong to their “trade association” because I don’t like to receive solicitations in the mail every other day begging for money. My donations go to the Firearms Policy Coalition and Gun Owners of America, whom I feel are much more effective in the fight against tyranny by infringement.

    The NRA lost its way a long time ago and is irrelevant as an effective mechanism influencing our government to roll-back the bad laws we have to endure. The only good it serves is to intimidate and influence the few Republicans left in office that haven’t caved in yet to the fascist demands for even more ineffective legislation that will make it even worse to be a law-abiding gun owner. When is tha last time a Republican politician actively defended us in public statements or actions? Even our speaker of the house Paul Ryan is poised to cave in and endorse the “no-fly, no-buy” firearms restrictions that violate our right to due process.

    The NRA serves as the 800-pound gorilla looming over our elected officials’ heads and is a focal point for fascists’ hate and bile. That is a mixed blessing, with as many disadvantages as there are benefits. I came up with a comprehensive solution to “the war on guns” that I thought would be a good compromise that the left would have to accept and the right would embrace because it would not require any further loss of our rights, while actually loosening up many of the silly restrictions we suffer now by adding a factor of accountability without giving up our privacy. However much sense it made, I could not even get anyone’s attention in the NRA to at least respond to my proposal submitted through their website – which they promise for all messages submitted. It makes me think that they want the war to continue just to justify their existence.


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