Stand and Fight … Who?

     The National Rifle Association is the most influential lobbying group in Washington, evidenced by the recent defeat of legislation to expand background checks for gun purchases.
     But this is no time to celebrate, so last weekend in Houston at the NRA’s annual meeting it urged 70,000 attendees to “Stand and Fight.”
     Fight who? Looking for answers, I went to see Glenn Beck speak at the rally Saturday.
     Turns out there are things to like about the NRA.
     They are very patriotic. Their band played the theme song for each branch of the U.S. military and had service members on hand stand up to applaud. Later we recited the Pledge of Allegiance, hands firmly over our hearts, and an unexpected kinship stirred as I settled in for Beck’s speech.
     His words trampled any hope I had for a sane debate.
     His voice yo-yoing from an indignant shout to near tears, Beck skillfully painted the NRA’s fight with strokes from the civil rights struggle.
     He told a story about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. trying to get a concealed carry permit in Alabama in 1956.
     “A citizen of good standing, he went down to the police station and he filled an application out. So he could have a concealed carry permit so he could legally carry a gun, but because he was considered a challenge to the people who were at that time in control of the system, the Alabama police told Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, ‘No, reverend, I’m sorry. We’d sure like to give you a permit to carry a gun, but for your own safety, sir, for your own safety we just don’t think you should have that permit.’
     “Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King owned several firearms. How many people even know that fact?! He owned several firearms and he was denied the right to carry a gun for his own safety. I’m sorry, let me hear from the left some more about gun control.
     “Is there anyone within the sound of my voice who believes that that man was denied a concealed carry because it was in his best interest? If you were truly concerned and serious about getting guns out of the hands of people who have proven themselves to be unworthy or dangerous with guns or irresponsible, then we need to tell the truth.
     “Racists like James Earl Ray killed one. Disturbed killers like Adam Lanza killed 26. But history shows governments kill millions.”
     Applause … muddling Beck’s strange logic in a brain suddenly under siege.
     “Our freedom’s under attack,” Beck said. “Our liberty, our way of life is being legislated out of existence. Our rights are being diminished by a ruling class of powerful elites. They’re growing out of control. We are in a precarious situation. We are. The hour grows late.
     “We have a government that is now run by radical revolutionaries actively working against the Constitution and the American people.”
     I had to get out of there. His words were suffocating. We waited for the next stand-and-clap moment and fled from our corner seats.
     Perhaps the NRA’s skill at pushing conspiracy theories is swelling its ranks.
     Last time I checked, the radicals running the country couldn’t even pass a law to expand background checks. So what is Beck saying? The hour is late all right … for our sanity.
     That said, I have no problem with good guys carrying guns, so long as they’re better shots than the bad guys.
     Keep shooting, ya’ll.

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