Saturday, May 18, 2019

GateHouse: The NRA’s greatest fraud

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
May 17, 2019
In 1991, retired Chief Justice Warren Burger, being interviewed on PBS News Hour, described the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) lobbying in support of an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment like this, “One of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special-interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
The NRA has taken fraud to a whole new level.
In a battle to take control of the NRA, the organization’s president Oliver North and Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre began to publicly air the NRA’s dirty (and expensive) laundry. For starters, according to the New York Times, LaPierre billed to the NRA $275,000.00 for purchases at the Zegna luxury men’s wear boutique in Beverly Hills. North, who was going to serve without pay, had a contract worth millions of dollars a year. Other payments included $60,000 for advertising on a TV show featuring the rock musician and NRA board member Ted Nugent.
All this while gun deaths of school-age children in the United States have increased at an alarming rate, with 38,942 fatalities among 5- to 18-year-olds from 1999 to 2017, according to a new study by Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine, reported CNN.
Dr. Charles Hennekens, the study’s senior author said, “It is sobering that in 2017, there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty and about 1,000 active duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms,”
No one will challenge the gun lobby, even though much of what is touted is based on a false premise. The Second Amendment provides, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
In an excerpt from former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ forthcoming memoir he writes, “Throughout most of American history there was no federal objection to laws regulating the civilian use of firearms.” He went on to write, when he was appointed in 1975 to the Court, ”(B)oth state and federal judges accepted the Court’s unanimous decision in United States v. Miller as having established that the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to bear arms was possessed only by members of the militia and applied only to weapons used by the militia.”
In Miller, the National Firearms Act was used to convict a man for transporting a 12-gauge shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches long across state lines. The man neither registered the gun nor had a written order for it, as required by the Act.
The Supreme Court found that the National Firearms Act did not violate the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The Court could not find that a sawed-off shotgun had any reasonable relation to the preservation of a well-regulated militia, and “therefore cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees to the citizen the right to keep and bear such a weapon.”
Miller remained the law until 2008, when by a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court recognized an individual’s right to possess a firearm under the Constitution. Justice Stevens calls the decision “unquestionably the most clearly incorrect decision that the Supreme Court announced during my tenure on the bench.”
E.J. Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post says the NRA’s overzealous support of the Second Amendment is about more than guns, it’s about politics. “The anti-government right knows it can’t sell Americans of modest incomes on its opposition to minimum wages, corporate regulation or more progressive taxes. So they channel their arguments through the gun issue and pretend that this is really a culture war ... ”
It is unquestionably the NRA’s greatest fraud.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010 was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.
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