What It Do: When You’ve Lost Manchin

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is one of the United States Senate’s most reliable advocates for gun ownership rights. The NRA itself has consistently given him an “A” score for his voting record, which makes it odd that he became the target of a recent ad released by the “gun-rights” advocates.

Well, maybe not so odd. The idea that the National Rifle Association is particularly concerned with the right of law-abiding citizens to responsibly own firearms is a flimsy fiction, at best. The NRA is the lobbying arm of the firearms manufacturing industry, and their job is to keep the wheels of the money train sufficiently greased up.

The firearms industry doesn’t want background checks, or well-considered purchases, or even responsible gun ownership, really.

Background checks won’t eliminate gun violence (the perpetrator of the Connecticut school shooting used weapons that were legally obtained by his mother), but they will help keep guns out of the hands of people that clearly are not capable of responsible firearm ownership, thus preventing bad situations that would otherwise have occurred.

Along with those people, some folks who are capable of responsible firearm ownership, but because of some petty mistake—a bar fight, perhaps—would find themselves unable to purchase a firearm. Currently, said people can patronize one of the hundreds of gun shows that happen throughout the country (or simply get on Craigslist) and bypass the restrictions they would encounter in most licensed gun shops.

If the Wild West aspect of the gun show and secondhand firearms market is brought to heel, then a certain percentage of gun buyers—a significant one, if the NRA’s histrionics are any indication—will be eliminated from the marketplace, reducing the industry’s profits. In their eyes, that is unacceptable for any reason.

But even beyond the direct effect of the gun-buyers market, the waiting period aspect of the background check would have a perhaps greater—if more indirect—affect on profits. The firearms industry doesn’t want people to take the time to think out their purchasing decisions, selecting the most appropriate tool for the job (i.e. hunting, self-defense, shooting at bottles in the woods, etc).

No, they want you paranoid and panicked about the Obamabots coming in the night to convert you to gay socialism, and imagining a grand plot to “disarm the public” every time a policy maker so much as breathes the word “gun control.” They want you rushing out to throw down $1,200 on a Bushmaster “assault rifle” (using the term exceedingly loosely). And, hey, you’d better go ahead and grab a couple of handguns while you’re at the store ‘cause Obama’s gonna ban ‘em, donchaknow? Will you be needing ammo today, sir?


Firearms sales are big money, and the recipients of that river of profit don’t want the flow to be reduced one iota, no matter what it costs. If anything, having some lone wolf psycho shoot up a bunch of innocents is ultimately good for business, as long as the industry keeps their heel on the necks of enough congresspeople to prevent any kind of meaningful legislation as a result.

After all, weapons sales skyrocketed in the wake of the Connecticut shooting (as well as the Boston Marathon bombing, I’ll wager). Random acts of violence are unsettling and scary, and the mythology of the gun makes people want one as a security blanket against the chaos of modern life.

In addition, an event like the tragedy in Connecticut provides an unparalleled opportunity to stir up the sad sacks in thrall to the NRA’s “the libruls are comin’ fer yer guns!” shtick, who reliably rush out to stockpile against the federal bogeyman.

In regards to safety and security, evidence shows that often the presence of a firearm has the opposite effect its buyer intended, sometimes leading to tragic outcomes (such as the five-year-old boy who was shot in the head by a friend in Texas last month).

And it’s unclear what these latter day minutemen think they would do against cruise missiles, armored infantry, and close air support if it ever came to that. Which it probably wouldn’t. Disarming the crazy-ass populace of this country would be bloody and expensive, and our corporate overlords wouldn’t have the stomach for it, even if they saw it as being in their interests, which they are unlikely to do (see: gun sales, profits of). But whatever.

The point is that there is a real, grown-up conversation long overdue in this country about the role of guns in our lives and identity, what the appropriate boundaries are for gun possession and ownership, and how best to address the gun violence that plagues certain (mostly poor and black) parts of the country.

If the NRA has run afoul of even conservaDem ally Senator Manchin (who repudiated the NRA in no uncertain terms, saying the organization had “lost its way”), let us no longer consider them valid participants in said conversation. They are merely the craven protectors of profit for an amoral industry built around instruments of death.

Hopefully people see that it’s not the NRA faction verses the gun control faction. It’s rational citizens (who have differing views on the subject) verses the profit absolutists—the same battle raging all across our society and culture.