Gun Control Opponents
Gun Control Opponents
Paul Helmke (President, The Brady Campaign) gives expert video advice on: Who are the opponents of gun control?; What is the NRA?; Why is the NRA the forerunner for gun advocacy? and more...
Who are the opponents of gun control?
The opponents of gun control are basically the National Rifle Association and other groups like Gun Owners of America and others that basically oppose any restrictions on guns. I've been working since I've taken over as the head of the Brady campaign to try to find some common ground with groups, and have been encouraged that some of the groups have indicated that they agree that felons and those that are dangerous to themselves or others because of mental illness shouldn't get guns. But to a large degree, a lot of the so called gun rights people oppose any restrictions on guns, any regulations on guns, any common sense measures on guns because they are afraid that there is the slippery slope, and that if we do that one step then it will lead to confiscation down the road. Again that's not something that we beleive in, but it's something that the other side uses to raise the money and to get their troops excited.
What is the NRA?
The NRA originally was a group that I understand basically represented hunters, represented sportsmen, represented people that were learning how to shoot. When I went to YMCA camp as a kid I got my NRA sharp shooter badge, and pro marksmanship badge and I still have those badges today. I took rifelery at the same time that I took archery, and canoeing, and sail boating and horseback riding. So the NRA was a group that originally promoted gun safety, learning the basics of the craft. In the mid 70's the NRA became a group that all of a sudden became very involved in fighting any common sense gun restrictions, partly as a reaction to the 1968 gun control act that listed proho to purchasers they decided that they were going to oppose any restrictions on guns. And since that time instead of representing the hunters and shooters, they've now started representing the manufacturers and the dealers and people that sell the guns and make money off of it. In my mind there's a distinction between a lot of the members and the leadership of the NRA and I think a lot of times the members of the NRA are willing to support the common sense things that I talk about, but the leadership isn't always willing to do that.
Why is the NRA the forerunner for gun advocacy?
The National Rifle Association really is almost a model for how to put together a lobbying advocacy group. They have been very effective. I think part of it is they've got a long history, they've been around since the 1870's, 1880's. They have a way into most places; they've done programs at YMCA's and training programs around the country. They're a group that when you join different things or get your license and different things, oftentimes you've almost automatically joined the NRA without knowing it or sort of as an add on to doing thins. So they've had a very effective way of building their membership. They're very vocal, they get their word out, they're very strident, they don't show much willingness to compromise and that appeals to people too. And they raise a lot of money and they spend a lot of money. They've been very successful at creating a myth about them that I think they're more powerful then they really are politically. But in the political world a lot of times, the myth is just as important as the reality, so they're good at what they do and I try to learn some lessons from them.
What are NRA doctrines?
In my mind, the good side of the NRA stands for gun safety, the bad side of NRA stands for no compromise, no common sense on gun restrictions, and when they step over that line and in effect help guns pushers and corrupt gun dealers and promote and push fear, that is when their leadership at least in my mind steps over the line. It is a group that has the potential for good but it'sa group that oftentimes has adopted policies and push policies from the leadership level that have made it very difficult to get things like the Brady Pill pass. It is very difficult to get any sort of common sense regulations on this dangerous product and I think that is where they become a danger to society too.