Charles Augustus Stahl
The National Rifle Association presented on Monday, Sept. 17, a gun rights session at Keene State College, in an effort to educate the next generation of gun rights advocates.
The presentation, dubbed NRA University, is a tour of 29 universities in 10 weeks aimed at spreading information about the NRA and Second Amendment rights. Though the Republican Club brought the presentation to KSC, the NRA emphasized throughout that they remain non-partisan and a single-issue organization. Of the 60 seats in Centennial Hall, less than half were filled, and in that half there were two journalism classes who attended the presentation. So to a room filled with journalism students, Suzanne Anglewicz, “part of the lobbying arm of the NRA,” spoke about the presentation on guns and gun rights.
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The presentation began with talking about education. Anglewicz said that in higher education, “There is never an opportunity to learn about the context of the Bill of Rights. So we started NRA University because most importantly, we realized that college students are the future dialog on those individual rights. You’re those guys are the ones, whether you believe it or not, are once you leave this place, going to determine what an individual right is, what the constitution actually says, or how they’ll interpret it in the future.”
“And so we thought the best thing to do was to come on college campuses, talk about the NRA, talk about the second amendment and the constitution and debunk some of the myths.”
With that, Anglewicz launched a video about the NRA, with music and Chuck Norris, preaching the importance of the Second Amendment.
There are approximately four million paying members of the NRA, but research shows that there may be as many as 30 million members, which makes for a lot of political sway.
This can be a bad and good thing; as of 2010 the NRA had endorsed over 200 Republican candidates, but also endorsed 64 Democrats. The NRA maintains that they are unbiased, and that they tend to support Republican candidates more readily because more often the two groups’ beliefs coincide.
The NRA has spent $140 million on training in the last 20 years and currently have over 80,000 instructors in the field. The main argument against the NRA is whether or not the Second Amendment is still relevant. Anglewicz says, “I’m absolutely gonna say yes, and probably even more relevant today than it ever has been…. But when people say to me, ‘Do you really need to own an AR-15? Do you really need to own a revolver that shoots shotgun shells…’ I do need to do it because I love those firearms. But I’m offended when people ask me why I need to own my AR-15. I’m offended because in the free society of the United States of America, you don’t ask people why they need something.”
Anglewicz played a video of the use of the AR-15, and she described the differences between two similar assault weapons.
The differences were minute, and mainly cosmetic, such as potential bayonet attachment and pistol grip.
In addressing the concept that in the Constitution the forefathers couldn’t have imagined the weapons possible in modern times, Anglewicz argues that they couldn’t have imagined that we would have mobile homes, though we still have the Fourth Amendment right against search and seizure.
Anglewicz continued to emphasize that it was an amendment right and it was unconstitutional to outlaw guns.
After a five-minute break the presentation eventually turned to enrollment and how people interested could join. The free hats, which had been an incentive in the posters advertising the event, were exclusively for people who signed up for a free year-long membership.
At the end of the presentation, students crowded Anglewicz with questions.
She asked the group of students in front of her for completed membership forms for the NRA, with about three or four of the forms were passed forward.
When asked about the Romney and Obama handouts in the back, Anglewicz responded “NRA has not officially endorsed a presidential candidate at this time,” and followed up by saying the posters were there because of the Keene Republican Club and not the NRA.
When asked questions other than those about the NRA, Anglewicz declined to comment.
Charles Augustus Stahl can be contacted at