By Andy Branca / Herald Forum
Among my favorite hobbies over the past 30 years is target shooting with handguns, shotguns, and rifles. I enjoyed hunting in my youth, but other life activities led me in new directions, and I haven’t hunted since my high school and early college years.
Eight years ago, I joined the National Rifle Association, a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1871, because I was compelled to pick a side in the political fight over the Second Amendment. I felt that the federal, state governments and courts were not fulfilling their obligations in upholding two major Second Amendment Supreme Court decisions, Heller vs. District of Columbia (2008) and McDonald vs. Chicago in 2010.
In Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to keep and bear arms, like all amendments in the Bill of Rights is an individual right just like free speech, voting, due process and freedom from discrimination. McDonald ruled that this Second Amendment right was also protected under the due process clause of 14th Amendment and therefore enforceable against the states.
These landmark decisions, welcomed by the Republicans and abhorred by the Democrats, represent one of the key issues — of which there seems to be no limit — dividing us nationally and locally.
In my view this comes to an ugly head with the issue of mass shootings; scratch that; shootings period. On a daily basis the routine news cycle includes, to our collective dismay, the use of firearms to shoot and kill people. The dead and wounded are counted and the higher that number the louder the calls for banning “assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, universal background checks and gun-show loopholes” by the Democrats and “guns don’t kill people” or “good guys with guns” from Republicans. The dead and wounded include everybody from criminals to police officers, from mothers to their children, from every walk of life.
The blood is on all our hands because we have not come together as a nation to fix it. The chief barrier is the same insane political divide that is drowning all our voices; no middle ground is allowed. We do not agree, therefore we are enemies and literally hate each other. I am embarrassed by this state of affairs in our country. Are you not?
I am proposing that the NRA and the Republican Party stop its choir preaching with the same reiteration I have heard without substantive changes. Climb out of the political box canyon and do the hard work-find a solution to this problem. Lead the way! I wish deeply that I knew the answer. We all do. I will wager that NRA membership would increase substantially if and when it does so.
Equally important is for the Democrats, Everytown for Gun Safety, and their anti-gun allies to drop their long-term dream of a United States with no guns in civilian hands. This view completely ignores the very foundation of America and the tradition of firearm ownership. It is a pillar of freedom. The Supreme Court has spoken. Get over it, befriend your “enemies” and work together to fix the problem.
Andy Branca lives on Camano Island.