MANN AND THE NRA by Perry Mann


(Julian, I have been on opponent of NRA ever since I realized the evilness of it. Not the members so much as the organization. It’s like a religion.)

Jeremy Burnsides blames guns for killing people (“Guns kill people,” Gazette, Feb. 4). Glenn Caroline blames people for killing people with guns (“Don’t blame the gun,” Gazette, Feb 11) [not sure if this is 2012 or 2013] . I side with Burnsides.

Caroline joined the NRA and works for it to reduce gun violence. Working for the NRA to reduce gun violence is like working for a logging company to save trees and woodpeckers. The NRA is a fascist organization. It is fascist because it promotes the principle of gun ownership as a public policy with the view that guns in every household foster law and order; that is, law and order from the barrel of a gun. A fundamental characteristic of a fascist society is the rule of the populace by force of arms; that is, by guns and not votes. In a democracy the governing of the populace should be its citizens’ dedication to abide by the laws democratically enacted and their delegation of the responsibility for public safety to civilian-controlled police.

The promotion of a gun in every household for protection is tantamount to the advocacy of anarchy; that is, every man and woman of a society assumes the responsibility of providing his/her police protection. The advocacy in a democracy should be better police protection rather than anarchy. If a police officer comes into court armed, the judge will often advise him to leave the courtroom and return unarmed. A courtroom is a place to resolve issues, however volatile, without resort to force and to guns. A nation should strive for the elimination of guns and for proliferation of efforts to reduce the causes of crime and to increase the communal solidarity of society.

Caroline: “What dictates whether an inanimate object will be used for good or evil is the person using the instrument.” That is, if the person is good he will use a gun for a good purpose; and if he is bad he will use a gun for a bad purpose. Such a proposition is a glaring simplism, an intellectual shortcoming rampant among gun lovers. Any incident whether that of a person killing another with a gun or that of a person refusing to use a gun is not simply a matter of choice but a matter of reaction to a set of circumstances— to circumstances that include all history to that moment, to all current and proximate influences, to the innate character of the actor and to the sum of his nature and nurture. Besides, if the inanimate object was not available, it couldn’t be used however much a person’s ire dictated bodily harm to another. And a gun is often a mortally decisive arbiter in an argument.

The inequality of wealth— shameful wealth and luxury juxtaposed with shocking and abject poverty— induces people who have to endure such blatant injustice to obtain some justice with guns and this induces the rich to turn to guns for protection. Everyone turns to guns as a result of the inequality. The NRA’s answer is always simplistic: Don’t ban guns; enforce the laws and put all criminals in prison, which is a solution that is no solution in the long run. It’s just an expedient: criminals leave prisons sooner or later, not reformed but enraged. The answer is more economic and social justice and the elimination of guns.

An argument used by Caroline and used by every gun lover is that to ban guns would put the populace at the mercy of criminals, who would obtain guns in some fashion. Caroline alleges that a gun ban in Washington D.C. has unarmed its law abiding citizens but allowed its criminal to remain armed. The result is a high rate of criminal activity in DC. The answer to that is that no ban will be effective unless it is national in scope and is diligently enforced.

Burnside: “Americans are in love with guns and are not brave enough to part with them.” To many Americans guns are more than a love affair: they are an addiction. The addiction is a gun’s increase of one’s power and the more powerful the gun the more powerful one feels. A Kalashnikov in his bedroom is the NRA member’s ultimate sleeping pill.

Is there more courage in having a gun or not having one? The ultimate Exemplar of moral and physical courage is the Carpenter. He preached a revolutionary way of life—a way antithetical to orthodoxy—and he did it unarmed. In fact, he left the world this memorable message with regard to arms: He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Further, that one arms himself with a gun is a manifestation of a readiness to kill and such a stance relative to the life and message of the Galilean reveals a moral and physical weakness. In addition, anyone who arms himself can expect another with whom he deals to arm himself, ad infinitum.

How can one believe that when the Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment that they had in mind a nation in which 80,000,000 people would be armed and that 20,000 or so citizens a year would die from gunshots fired by other citizens? To believe that is to relegate the Fathers to the status of myopes or worse.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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