All I want for Christmas is a machine gun

Not really, of course, but damn do I love this sweater.

sweater.jpg

For those of you who can't quite pick up on the reference, it's Die Hard, the greatest Christmas film of all time.

In the movie, our hero, John McClane, has just managed to kill his first terrorist and acquired a machine gun. He sends the lifeless corpse down to Hans Gruber, the terrorist boss man, in an elevator with this note written in red Sharpie on his sweatshirt.

There's nothing better than a barefoot underdog taunting his well armed enemy.

For the record, while I'm not interested in owning a machine gun, I'm not at all opposed to the second Amendment. I believe in the right of Americans to own firearms. I simply want every gun owner to undergo a thorough background check, restrictions placed on criminals, perpetrators of domestic abuse, individuals on the no-fly list, and the like, and a complete ban on assault weapons. 

You know... reasonable, rationale gun ownership. The kind of gun ownership our founding fathers envisioned with they wrote the Constitution. 

Except for John McClane, of course. He can have as many machine guns as he wants. 

The NRA: Important facts to remember before their crazy attack ads scare the hell out of you.

The NRA is apparently angry about something, if the recent NRA ad is to be believed. No one is entirely sure what has caused this sudden burst of anger, but they certainly sound angry.  

If anything, the NRA should be happy. For eight years, they claimed that President Obama was coming for the guns, and that never came close to happening. They should be celebrating. 

Instead, they produce this. Frankly, it's kind of frightening. 

But before anyone gets too worried about the hyperbole of the NRA, perspective is important.

The NRA has approximately 5 million members. This number is disputed by many agencies and media outlets, because the NRA reports different membership numbers at different times and seems to be uncertain or deliberately misleading when it comes to an actual count, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they have 5 million dues paying members.

Five million represents about 1% of the US population and about 7% of all gun owners in the United States. This is a politically powerful organization, but it has a relatively small constituency.

99% of Americans do not belong to the NRA, and 93% of gun owners do not belong.

It's also important to remember that NRA members often disagree with the NRA on key issues. For example, a vast majority of NRA members (over 75%) support comprehensive background checks before purchasing a gun, but the NRA stands opposed to this. 

Almost half of all NRA members (and over half of all gun owners) support a ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines as well, but the NRA stands in opposition to this as well.    

In many ways, the NRA is a politically motivated organization that does not align itself to the opinions of its members. 

In summary:

Crazy, irrational attack ads: Absolutely. 

Politically strong organization? Undoubtedly.

Representing the opinions and beliefs of its members well? Not really. 

Encompassing a large segment of the Americans (or even gun owners): Not even close.