Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Guns Bring Shock and Awe to My Inbox

By William Fisher

For all my professional life, I have waged as much war as I could against what I considered the Second Amendment Freaks in our midst. I don’t mean those folks who are just hunters, but those miscreants who just love the thrill of carrying a concealed weapon into church (presumably to deal with pastors who counsel compassion toward physicians who perform abortions), or to a wedding (the shotgun variety), or to a Congress Person’s Town Meeting (in the unlikely event that someone speaks up in favor of gun control).

I have written hundreds of articles about guns and why we should intelligently limit and monitor gun sales. I have signed more petitions than I can recall. I have loaned my tired bones to endless marches. And so forth. You get the idea.

So you can imagine my shock and awe when I opened my email inbox a couple of weeks ago to find a fund-raising pitch from one Dudley Brown, who introduces himself as the Executive Director of an outfit called the National Association for Gun Rights.

It was obvious right away that the sponsors of this letter bought the wrong mailing list – they certainly wasted their money with me. But I’m glad I received the missive, because it taught me a few things.

For example, I was really surprised to read that gun-owners apparently don’t have anything near the rights they think they should enjoy. I was also shocked that the National Rifle Association was highly conspicuous by its absence from Mr. Brown’s letter. I thought the NRA had secured more gun rights than any sane person could ever need, but apparently Mr. Brown disagrees. For Mr. Brown, the NRA virtually doesn’t exist. And Wikipedia tells me that Brown often criticizes the NRA for being soft on gun control.

So who is this Dudley Brown? Well, according to Wikipedia, he’s a pro-gun lobbyist whose lobbying activities have focused on influencing the Colorado Legislature, both in opposing new gun legislation such as that proposed in the wake of the Columbine High School massacre, and supporting specific legislation to relax concealed carry regulations.
"We're not afraid to be called radicals on the gun issue," says Brown. "Because that's what we are."

In the wake of Columbine, Colorado voters passed Amendment 22, a voter-initiated measure requiring background checks of gun purchases at gun shows, closing the so-called “gun show loophole” Brown opposed the initiative, stating, "We're under assault right now. We feel like the Jews did in Nazi Germany.” That’s downright insulting – how the hell would he know?
Anyway, that’s Dudley Brown. But the central theme of Mr. Brown’s fund-raising polemic was the urgent need to destroy Indiana Senator Richard Lugar in the Republican primary.

“If ever there was a time for gun owners to charge up a hill together to reclaim the high ground from our anti-gun enemies, it's right now. And the man standing atop that hill is anti-gun Republican U.S. Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana,” is the gracious language Mr. Brown used.

Then he went on to explain: “For the last 25 years, the gun control lobby has counted on Dick Lugar to do their behind-the-scenes Senate dirty work on Capitol Hill. He's even been called "Barack Obama's Favorite Republican."

Then came the pitch: “The National Association for Gun Rights PAC thinks this race is so important to the rights of gun owners that we have given everything that the law allows ($5,000) to Lugar's opponent, pro-gun champion, Richard Mourdock.”

And Mr. Brown then inveighed: “If you care as passionately as I do about seeing Dick Lugar go down in flames at the polls, please chip in $15 or $20 to the Mourdock campaign -- right now.”

Warming to his subject, Brown continued: “You may remember in 2011 when he went on national television to call for a reinstatement of the so-called "Assault Weapons Ban. Brown also commented on some of the other legislation Dick Lugar has voted for: “’The Brady Instant Gun Owner’ Registration Scheme, otherwise known as the ‘Brady Bill’; the so-called ‘Assault Weapons Ban’ and called for it to be reinstated in 2011; and restrictions on private sales of firearms.”

Senator Lugar, Brown wrote, has voted with [the anti-gun movement] more than any Republican Senator in Senate history, “and that's just the tip of the iceberg.”

Senator Dick Lugar MUST be defeated in the upcoming Indiana primary, Brown cautions. “This race has national implications, which should make any concerned gun owner in America get involved in this race.”

And finally, “I'm encouraging all gun owners to get involved and ‘charge up the hill’ to take back our voice in the Senate from anti-gun Republicans like Dick Lugar.

And I’m encouraging all gun owners to ignore Mr. Brown’s sermon.

For as long as I’ve been following politics, when Democrats try to define an “intelligent Republican” they’re likely to come up with Dick Lugar. Because Lugar has been a symbol of what they mean when they talk about reaching common-sense consensus. Yes, he’s a conservative from a conservative state, which means he sometimes has to vote with his party leadership. But not on guns. And not on foreign policy either.

Dick Lugar has been one of the consistent voices of reason on US foreign policy and world affairs generally at exactly those times when all his colleagues appear to be losing their minds in lockstep.

And if you think there are no more examples in Washington of bipartisan civility, take a look at Lugar (R) and John Kerry (D). These two guys are each a Vice-Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the two-headed body a creature of the time when politics in foreign policy was supposed to vanish at the water’s edge. They actually talk with one another. They respect one another. In fact, they like one another.

One would hope that Mr. Brown and his band of zealots might also vanish at the water’s edge. And that his war on Sen. Lugar fails because this is a time when the Senate needs as many common sense Republicans as it can find.