What Is the NRA Doing?

The National Rifle Association recently held its annual banquet. The keynote speaker? Gen. Tommy Franks. From an AP account of Franks’ speech:

    Those who count the increasing number of dead American soldiers in Iraq are missing the bigger picture, retired Gen. Tommy Franks said on Saturday night.”What we’re talking about is neither 2,400, 24,000 or 240,000 lives,” Franks said at the National Rifle Association’s annual banquet. “Terrorism is a thing that threatens our way of life. It doesn’t have anything to do with politics.”

    More than 2,400 soldiers have died since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq that Franks is credited with developing and coordinating. He also drew up military options in Afghanistan for President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

    “I watched as America changed,” Franks said. “That’s not near done. We have to secure ourselves. We have to secure our Constitution.”

    Franks was loose and wryly funny in his 30-minute speech. Some of it was self-deprecating, but he also didn’t mind taking an occasional jab at the media and fellow generals for attacking Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

    “We haven’t got any generals here. They’re all in front of TV cameras complaining about Don Rumsfeld,” Franks deadpanned. “Difference is, I know what I’m talking about.”

    Franks staunchly defended his friend, even as he called him “grumpy” and “grouchy.”

    “I don’t care about your politics. I don’t,” Franks said. “Don Rumsfeld is an American patriot.” …

    Franks didn’t touch on [the NRA’s domestic agenda], but said he appreciated being with a crowd that knew the difference between citizens and criminals, and that the United States would prevail in the world’s “global war.”

What in the world does this have to do with the NRA’s mission? I ask this, by the way, as a libertarian who believes in the individual right to self-defense and, therefore, the right to bear arms. In fact, I’m a former NRA member (who quit over precisely this sort of thing – the group’s endorsement of candidates and causes inimical to personal liberty). Now I don’t expect the NRA to come out against the U.S. government’s gun-grabbing in Iraq, but good God, why are they cheering on the international wing of the ATF?

If you are an antiwar member of the NRA – and I know there are some of you out there – please contact the organization and ask them why they’re spending your dues to promote ultra-statists like Franks:

E-mail: membership@nrahq.org

Phone: 1-800-NRA-3888

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