Donate to Brooks Historical

Friday, June 19, 2015

The National Rifle Association in a Culture of Terrorism

Gen. Ambrose Burnside
The Charleston Massacre of July 17, 2015 by a white-supremacist who killed nine African-American worshipers at the Emanuel AME church speaks loud and clear of a terrorist culture in America itself... a long tradition of white-supremacy that began immediately following the Civil War and infected every aspect of American life today. The National Rifle Association (NRA) only recently took over the corporate leadership of this terrorist culture. It now stands as the quintessential extension of white-supremacy focused almost entirely upon the profit of the gun industry. It threatens our very existence from the inside... like a cancer.

Dr. Paul Finkleman wrote:

"I have long argued that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual's right to own firearms, and that the purpose of the amendment was purely to guarantee that the states could maintain their own militias. I have also written a great deal on how the Constitution protected slavery (see my book Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson), and I am not shy about pointing out how the founders protected slavery. Indeed, my most recent public comment on slavery and the founding was an op-ed in the New York Times on Jefferson and slavery titled "The Monster of Monticello."

Gentile beginnings....

The National Rifle Association (NRA) began in 1871 as an organization designed to foster and promote competitions among gun enthusiasts.  It's first officers were based in New York and included ex-Union generals George Wood Wingate and Ambrose Burnside, who might be remembered by North Carolinians as the commander of the Coast Division, or North Carolina Expeditionary Force that closed 80% of Confederate shipping to the North Carolina coast.

The NRA was known for promoting marksmanship in many state affiliations, as well.  A program of annual rifle and pistol competitions was authorized, and included a national match open to military and civilian shooters. NRA headquarters moved to Washington, D.C. to facilitate the organization's advocacy efforts.

In 1934, the federal government recognized that certain "gangster weapons" such as machine guns and short barreled shotguns should be limited and regulated.  The National Firearms Act (NFA), 72nd Congress, Sess. 2, ch. 757, 48 Stat. 1236, enacted on June 26, 1934, that, in general, imposes a statutory excise tax on the manufacture and transfer of certain firearms and mandates the registration of those firearms.  Then came the Gun Control Act of 1968, which greatly expanded the federal licensing system for gun dealers and clarified which people—including anyone previously convicted of a felony, the mentally ill, illegal-drug users, and minors—were not allowed to own firearms. The NRA originally backed all of these common-sense gun laws and regulations.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 was part of Johnson's Great Society series of programs and was spurred in passage by the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr..  Source

One question to ask is:  Would this act have been proposed in Congress if it ONLY been about Malcolm X and MLK being assassinated and not the Kennedys?  That, one might say, is a racially "loaded" question... :)

Keep in mind that Brown v. Board ended segregation in 1954, which spurred two attempts in 1954 and 1956 to instill the federal government with a "christian idealism," a violation of the 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the "separation of church and state" clause.  At this time, conservative elements fought against what they viewed as a threat to or an end to "White Rule" in America, coupled with fundamentalist Christianity, like Southern justification had included before the Civil War and was included in the Confederate States of America Constitution.  It was becoming increasingly apparent that this would happen again after the Democrat landslide election in 1964, when Lyndon Johnson (who signed the Civil Rights Act) won 486 of 538 electoral votes needed to win.  The electoral map below shows that opposition to Johnson came from states in the traditional South, those most opposed to Civil Rights.  

1964 Presidential Electoral Map - Democrat Lyndon Johnson won 486 of 538 electoral votes.

Then, sparking Southern resentment, the Democratic administration under Lyndon B. Johnson had passed the Civil Rights Act in July 1964, which outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women.  When he did this, he said "We just handed the South to the Republicans" because he knew that the South (firmly conservative) remained strongly against these groups of Americans.  But, the liberal trend had started in 1954 with Brown v. Board...

Further infuriating the traditional South, two main goals of the Great Society social reforms were the elimination of poverty and racial injustice. New major spending programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems, and transportation were launched during this period. The Great Society in scope and sweep resembled the New Deal domestic agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt, firmly establishing the Democratic Party as the party of minorities and the poor.  Two programs spurned by today's GOP came out of this period: Social Security and Medicare. 

The NRA focused upon the regulation of firearms before the 1960s.  By 1975, the NRA had created the Institute for Legislative Action to lobby for Second Amendment rights.  And, by 1977, the annual convention in Cincinnati would be a defining election for the organization and came to be known as "The Cincinnati Revolution," the beginning of NRA's political involvement.  Joel Achenbach, Scott Higham, and Sari Horwitz with the Washington Post stated:

"'Before Cincinnati, you had a bunch of people who wanted to turn the NRA into a sports publishing organization and get rid of guns,' recalls one of the rebels, John Aquilino, speaking by phone from the border city of Brownsville, Texas.

"What unfolded that hot night in Cincinnati forever reoriented the NRA. And this was an event with broader national reverberations. The NRA didn't get swept up in the culture wars of the last century so much as it helped invent them -- and kept inflaming them. In the process, the NRA overcame tremendous internal tumult and existential crises, developed an astonishing grass-roots operation and became closely aligned with the Republican Party [then, joined by conservative Southern Democrats].
" Source

Within the organization, now existed a group of members whose central concern was Second Amendment rights. Those activists defeated the incumbents in 1977 and elected Harlon Carter as executive director and Neal Knox as head of the ILA.

After 1977, the organization expanded its membership by focusing heavily on political issues and forming coalitions with conservative politicians, most of them Republicans.  With a goal to weaken the Gun Control Act of 1968,  Knox's NRA successfully lobbied Congress to pass the McClure-Volker firearms decontrol bill of 1986 and worked to reduce the powers of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In 1982, Knox was ousted as director of the ILA but began mobilizing outside the NRA framework and continued to promote opposition to gun control laws. Source

It was significant that the NRA once fought FOR bipartisan gun control and later, lobbied against it.  On occasion, this new partisan NRA lobbied against their own former NRA legislation.  

It is also no coincidence that the NRA changed its core values as Ronald Reagan entered the White House supported by radical Southern conservative Jesse Helms. 

What brought about this turn in ideology from promoting gun control to fighting against it?  Why the sudden focus on "second amendment rights" following Brown v. Board, the Civil Rights Act, and other Democratic reforms?  

Examining Neal Knox's personal ideology may help to understand his adoption of the new NRA tactics... 

Clifford Neal Knox — born in Oklahoma, raised in Texas, served eight years in the Texas National Guard, and attended Abilene Christian College (now Abilene Christian University) and Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. He also began what would become a long career as a freelance writer and columnist, starting as a reporter for the Vernon, Texas Daily Record before moving on to the Wichita Falls, Texas. Source

Knox wanted to roll back gun laws, even the ones that restricted the sale of machine guns.  "He believed that gun-control laws threatened basic American freedoms, that there were malign forces that sought nothing less than total disarmament. There would come a point when Knox would suggest that the assassinations of the 1960s and other horrors might have been part of a gun-control plot," as Achebach et al. stated.

Knox obviously held a paranoid bent... but, what was he most afraid of?  A liberal plot against guns?  Or, the liberal notion that ALL Americans had rights, even African-Americans, women, and the non-religious?  

Many gun enthusiasts profess to be liberals, so the first explanation seems unjustified.  

Knox was joined by a fellow Texan, Harlon Brandon Carter as new leaders of the NRA.  Carter was born in Granbury, Tex., and joined the rifle association as a junior member at the age of 16. In a quarrel that may resemble the Zimmerman v. Martin trial in Florida, he fatally shot a 15-year-old boy:

"After returning home from school that day, Carter was told by his mother that there were three Latino youths loitering near the family's property. Carter left his house, shotgun in tow, to confront them. After finding Casiano and his two companions at a nearby swimming hole, Carter pointed his shotgun at them and ordered them to come with him. Casiano refused, pulled out a knife, and asked Carter if he would like to fight. Carter then pointed the shotgun at Casiano. Casiano laughed and brushed the gun aside while taking a step back. Carter asked Casiano, "You don't think I'd use it?" and then fatally shot him in the chest. After initially being convicted of murder, Carter was able to successfully appeal and get the case thrown out." Source

Carter went on to graduate from the University of Texas and Emory Law School. Following in the footsteps of his father, he joined the United States Border Patrol.  He rose rapidly in that organization, and was chief of the entire patrol from 1950 to 1957. 

Knox and Carter, both from a Southern conservative Christian background and both opponents of gun control and anti-immigration, led the NRA through its lobbyist beginnings.  After the "Cincinnati Revolution," the NRA moved from a bipartisan Northern-dominated organization to a partisan Southern organization hell bent on abolishing gun control... after Democratic reforms that placed the white man on equal footing with everyone else.

At the 1991 national convention, Knox's supporters were elected to the board, and named staff lobbyist Wayne LaPierre as the executive vice president. The NRA focused its attention on the gun control policies of the Democratic Clinton Administration.  In 1994, the NRA unsuccessfully opposed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, but successfully lobbied for the ban's 2004 expiration.

In the past, the NRA helped to remove machine guns from the general public... only to lobby for assault weapons for all citizens to wield at will just 60 years later.  The problem represented by the modern NRA is one of culture... a growing American culture of terror.  At first "gun control" was seen as a logical way to prevent violence, seen by whites as a Negro or poor-white problem.  But, NRA lobbyists began to favor the rhetoric that more of these depressed demographic groups traded weapons on the black market and obtained cheaper and unregistered guns.  Then the NRA began opposing the idea of gun control and told potential owners that they must all carry guns... essentially, to give whites the opportunity to rid themselves of the black menace... again, like in 1898. The antiquated 2nd amendment still supported the rhetoric. Of course, gun manufacturers would rake in greater profits... that was the other point, after all.

Massacres and mass gun-violence today have become as commonplace as church prayer meetings. For America, especially since the Southern takeover of American politics after Civil Rights, it's always about racism and white control... domination of politics and money to achieve a white-supremacist end. 

And if none of this is proof enough, "During a speech to the National Rifle Association’s annual convention on Saturday, Wayne LaPierre combined sexism and racism in a single statement to express his desire to see a white man back in the White House." Source: