When I first saw this clip from Katie Pavlich, it reminded me of my own interview with Richard Dreyfuss nearly three years ago on the need to educate on civics and civility. Dreyfuss appears to have taken those issues to heart here in his appearance last night on Piers Morgan Tonight, in which he tells a somewhat stunned Morgan,” I don’t think the NRA is a villain.” And he directly rebuked Morgan’s entire oeuvre on the topic with his explanation — “I believe that’s a problem of the press, which started with an ‘us-them’ problem.”
It’s an interesting platform on which to make that argument, I’d say:
As for Dreyfuss’ proposal, it’s equal parts fantasy and well-intentioned ignorance. First, the NRA is a private organization, not a governmental bureaucracy. They don’t own warehouses in which to store illegal weapons, whether on a “short list” or a long list. Dreyfuss mentions that we should look at guns like cars, but AAA doesn’t provide drivers licenses nor garage services for people who don’t qualify to drive. Law enforcement responsibility is always a governmental task, for very good reason — we don’t want private police enforcing private law, no matter whether we like their mission or not.
Second, as Katie points out, the NRA already trains people on safe weapon use — nearly a million people a year, actually:
In civilian training, the NRA continues to be the leader in firearms education. Over 50,000 Certified Instructors now train about 750,000 gun owners a year. Courses are available in basic rifle, pistol, shotgun, muzzleloading firearms, personal protection, and even ammunition reloading. Additionally, nearly 1,000 Certified Coaches are specially trained to work with young competitive shooters. Since the establishment of the lifesaving Eddie Eagle® Gun Safety Program in 1988, more than 12 million pre-kindergarten to sixth grade children have learned that if they see a firearm in an unsupervised situation, they should “STOP. DON’T TOUCH. LEAVE THE AREA. TELL AN ADULT.” Over the past seven years, Refuse To Be A Victim® seminars have helped more than 15,000 men and women develop their own personal safety plan using common sense strategies.
As for “taking care of this problem,” the NRA has little power to do much more than it already does. Morgan would like it to capitulate to gun seizures, which its membership will never do. The NRA can and should lobby Congress to look for better ways to assess and treat mental illness, which is usually the root cause in mass shootings, and enforce laws on the books before encroaching further on the rights of people already abiding by the law. Following up on failed background checks might be one productive area for law enforcement, but that is not the NRA’s job — nor should it be.