In the 1930s, the Ku Klux Klan’s Georgia headquarters was at 3155 Roswell Road in Atlanta. The carved sign above the door read Ku Klux Klan Sheet Factory and in fact, they did produce the elaborate white satin costumes with brightly embroidered chevrons and machine stitched names and romantic sounding titles.
A good custom ordered Grand Wizard’s outfit could cost over $600, and the cost to the Atlanta Klan for making this charming bit of American hate was around $17. As the Klan reached out to every redneck hater south of Louisville, the leaders of the Klan were getting rich.
The KKK was never a good idea. But at least at the start it had a presumed mission to protect the genteel white folk from what they imagined might be marauding freed slaves and Carpetbaggers who had come south to take advantage of our weakened state and confused populace. The wrong but noble notions of Nathan B. Forrest and his articulate scribe Colonel William W. Robinson of Verona, TN, were quickly hijacked by terrorist racists who subjected freemen and other innocent Republicans to fear, beatings and worse.
No one can defend this institution and I certainly do not. But by the early 20th Century, the Klan was not only a mostly toothless organization, but they had been hijacked by intelligent good-old-boys and turned into a classic fraud. Men who would no more torch a church than they would eat a bat became the leaders and the money came pouring in.
Ugly, frightened, rednecks certainly continued to commit mayhem simultaneously to claiming membership in the Klan, but the boys at the top were much more interested in the $59 subscription to their hate spewing newsletters and those $600 robes. The Klan was now a scheme. Run by haters, but a scheme none the less.
The National Rifle Association was formed in 1871. Its first president was the fabulously hirsute Yankee General Ambrose Burnside. Their founding was a response to the less than stellar marksmanship exhibited by the Union troops during the unpleasantness of the early 1860s.
For more than 70 years, the NRA opened firing ranges and trained marksmen and hunters on safety and a multitude of skills needed by the sporting enthusiast. On their own website they boast that they are the ‘longest-standing civil rights organization in the US.’ But then it got ugly. Sometime mid-20th century the NRA decided on its own that the country was working towards the end of our gun culture, and fortunately for them, the Second Amendment appeared to be a perfect pole on which to hoist their flag.
In 1990 they formed a nonprofit foundation allowing gun owners and, more importantly, gun manufacturers and gun importers to write tax deductible checks to promote gun ownership. I think the NRA uses The Idiots Guide to Negotiating as they set their agenda. Any gun for any person at any time in any place with any credentials makes for a safer America.
My friends, this group is all about keeping the money flowing from their big contributors. If a high volume clip or assault rifle ban were to pass Congress, their biggest donors would be financial losers. And I don’t know how big Wayne LaPierre’s (CEO of NRA) second home might be, but I bet it’s bigger than yours. This is a money-making venture hiding behind a well thought out, and necessary, Second Amendment to the US Constitution. They do not represent hunters or marksmen. They represent themselves!
Anybody pissed off yet?
The liberal senator and former Presidential candidate Gary Hart thinks there needs to be a new version of the NRA. A group truly focused on shooting as a sport and as a traditional way of feeding the family. Keep the damn politics out of it. Wouldn’t this be a group you’d be willing to join? I own a gun. I would join.
Lastly, I have a bar bet for you. Go down to Willie’s and ask the guy on the next stool: “Which former US President wrote an Op-Ed in the New York Times in favor of a ban of assault rifles in 1994?” If he guesses Jimmy Carter, order top shelf bourbon for yourself, but if he guesses Ronald Reagan, you owe the man a beer.
There are solutions to the carnage that too many handguns and too many assault rifles bring to America. And these solutions will not necessarily take your rights away. Outlawing Meth does not appear to have led to the closing of beer distilleries. And outlawing assault style rifles will not result in the loss of my shotgun. Serious people know this. Letting the NRA, a group that is getting wealthy from the donations of the gun manufacturers, speak for you is not a responsible way to be.