Taylor Adoplhson

Equinox Staff


National Rifle Association (NRA) Director Wayne LaPierre’s first response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. was, “I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.”

Some NRA members do not agree with LaPierre’s initial statement.  “Mental health checks and background checks should have been at the top of the list and it wasn’t,” said Ben Granatek of  Hillsborough, N.H., who is listed as a “personal protection in the home” expert on the NRA’s website, which notes his 30-years of NRA training experience.. Also listed is his home security course, which costs $200.

Added another NRA member, Neil Jeneral, “Absolutely, mental health checks should be discussed.  Part of the reason that background checks are a little bit hollow is because of HIPA.  That’s the Health Information Protection Act where we aren’t allowed to dive into people’s medical records, and it’s not our business, people are all protected and I understand the reasons for that.   There ought to be another way around it, we do need to know if the person is a psychopath or is bipolar, things like that,”  Jeneral is president of the Peterborough, N.H. Sportsman’s Club.

Granatek also mentioned he had brought up the mental health and gun control issues with U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and neither one have responded.  “It seems like this mental health thing is in the too hard category.  They don’t want to talk about mental health because it’s a difficult animal to tackle with people’s rights, to privacy, doctor’s rights to maintain privacy for mental health people and it’s like okay so where are we going,” Granatek said.

Both Granatek and Jeneral said they are firm believers that something needs to be done to settle disputes about gun control. “I think it’s unfortunate that it takes an emotional issue like Newtown  to put this in the spotlight because then it can’t be dealt with in a responsible objective manner,  there are too many emotions involved and people are reacting to their complete disgust of what happened,” Jeneral said.

Gun Control laws have been the topic of discussion in the Unites States ever the since the NRA was founded, back in 1871 by two Union leaders of the Civil War, Col. William C. Church and General George Wingate, who wanted their soldiers to shoot more accurately at enemy targets.  In fact, the NRA used to be former supporters of gun control even though they are the nation’s leading gun rights advocates, according to numerous reports.

According to the NRA Headquarters’ website, the group’s earlier main goal was to promote and entertain rifle shooting on a scientific basis. . “They are an organization that has vowed to protect their Second Amendment right.  It’s more than just hunting and shooting competitions, it always has been,” Jeneral said.

While, the Second Amendment of the Constitution states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Jeneral said he believed the NRA’s aims have gone further than just protecting the Second Amendment as written. “More than protecting our Second Amendment rights?  I think they try to be more than that, they try to appeal to people for gun safety training, education, good public relations for gun owners, they are multifaceted organization but their primary responsibility is for protecting the second amendments rights for sure,” Jeneral said.

The NRA was once a promoter of gun control laws that have been passed.  NRA leaders of the 1920’s were the ones who helped adopt the Uniform Firearms Act, which only allowed citizens with a substantial reason to carry a firearm obtain a license, followed by a waiting period before a hand gun could be in the hands of the buyer, according to keepandbeararms.com.   “I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses,” Karl Frederick said, NRA’s president at that time.

By 1934, the NRA was taking measures to protect their Second Amendment rights and created the Legislative Affairs Division, with concerns about the 1934 National Firearms Act, which did not try to ban any weapons, but did tax certain firearms such as machine guns and short-barrel rifles, according to previous reports..

According to the NRA’s own website, they have shown their dominance and success in the United States. In 1872, the NRA was able to convince the state of New York that they needed an area for a practice ground to be built a year after the organization was founded.  If it wasn’t for New York granting this land to the NRA that remained operational for 20 years, they may have never got their feet off the ground.  In 1903 the NRA was pushing for youth involvement and college clubs to partake in the shooting sports they had to offer.  By 1906, the youth of the NRA were fully participating with more than 200 boys competing in full fledged competitions

In 1975, the NRA formed the Institute for Legislative Action, which is responsible for securing the rights of the Second Amendment and has the power to do so with the backing of almost four million NRA members as stated on the NRA-ILA website.

Recent events and reports indicate President Barrack Obama and the rest of his administration are making efforts to ban weapons, as well as limiting the size of large capacity magazines and forcing the issue about better background and mental health checks.

According to an article on foxnews.com, NRA Executive Officer and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said, “The proposal for mandatory background checks for gun owners is a placebo and would not make schools or streets safer but would lead to a registration of lawful gun owners, and in the end there are only two reasons for government to create that federal registry for gun owners: to tax them or to take them.”

Observed New Hampshire NRA member Granatek, “My view of it is Wayne LaPierre and David Keene are obviously protecting the Second Amendment rights and don’t want to have them eroded but I think they need to back off just a little bit and say, assault rifles with 30-round clips are not needed, and the other thing is what they are trying to do is bring visibility to the mental health issues that are related.”

Taylor Adolphson can be contacted at tadolphson@ksc.keene.edu


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