If you’re trying to call the NRA, prepare to be on hold for awhile. The recorded message on the contact line for the NRA’s lobbying arm told callers Friday, “We are currently experiencing extremely high call volume due to the recent attacks on our Second Amendment rights.”
There is a political battle being waged right now, but despite how some on the conservative right-wing are trying to frame it, the fight is not over the Second Amendment. The president and vice president have both said they believe in the right to bear arms, and none of the gun safety laws proposed by the White House this week infringes on the Second Amendment.
But they do, however, require some changes in American gun culture. Frank Rich writes in New York Magazine, “Resetting American policy on guns is nearly as fundamental change in our culture as the abolition of slavery.”
The proposed assault weapons ban, perhaps the most controversial of all, wouldn’t tread on the Second Amendment any more now than it did when Congress instituted it in 1994, or when machine guns were banned in 1986. As Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday to troops in Italy, “I don’t know why the hell people have to have an assault weapon.” He added, “Who the hell needs armor-piercing bullets except you guys in battle?”
NRA President David Keene defended high-capacity magazines on Today Thursday, saying that for training and competitions, extended clips “seem more efficient.” A Washington Post/ABC News poll finds 65% of Americans believe those magazines are dangerous enough to society that they should be outlawed. The “efficiency” of changing magazines would be sacrificed to make it more difficult for a mass shooter to kill innocent people.
President Obama has also proposed universal background checks, so everyone that purchases a firearm is screened for having a criminal record or a history of mental illness. For legal gun owners, it just means that those who fail a background check can no longer buy a weapon off the grid from a private dealer at a gun show. Several polls, including a new survey by CBS News and the New York Times, have found nine out of ten Americans support this.
The Second Amendment is not under attack, but the proposed new laws would mean changes. No laws will entirely prevent another massacre like the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, but perhaps these changes would make one more difficult to carry out.
Watch the video above to hear the recording on the NRA phone line, and whether Alex Wagner and the NOW panel believe this proposed legislation will change gun culture in America.