The NRA held their annual get together in Houston, Texas, this weekend, grandly themed: Stand and Fight. I’m hoping that’s a rhetorical flourish by people accustomed to gun talk. They mean legislatively, right? Right?
I’d tell you to think of this week’s NRA convention as CPAC, only packing, but if the cast of characters is any indication, they’re probably packing at CPAC too. The NRA meeting this weekend offered speechifying from the very same right-wingers the Conservatives have fielded at their recent political conferences, like good ol’ boy Rick Perry, who seemed in his element for a change. Classy as ever, Sarah Palin, came with her own freedom chaw, and Rick Santorum somehow managed to turn gun ownership into a religious principal. The one speaker I did find surprising was Bobby Jindal. I have difficulty picturing him setting a mousetrap, much less wielding an assault rifle.
Of course, we all know why the Washington types flock to speak at the NRA convention, which is, at it’s core, a super-sized gun show. They want votes. They want campaign money. They want attention, especially Sarah Palin. This time, it’s not the politicians we need to be worried about. But the NRA elected a new president this week, Alabama native son, Jim Porter, and the reason he was elected, and what it means for the ability of states to enact their own gun sanity legislation, deserves far more attention than the possibility of watching Sarah Palin spit tobaccy juice, tantalizing as that image may be.
Read any biography of Jim Porter, and what jumps out at you is his paranoia. (And proud of it!) President Obama is a “fake president.” Eric Holder is “rabidly un-American,” and is plotting with Hillary Clinton to “kill the Second Amendment.” New York is “ground zero in the fight to take away all of our freedom.” If you didn’t know we were discussing the new president of the NRA, you’d be thinking, this is just the kind of delusional personality we would like to keep from getting his hands on a gun – at least until he received psychiatric counseling. Jim Porter is a man who thinks we all have a solemn duty as citizens to learn to use the same weaponry our soldiers are issued, in case we have to replace them – or fight against them. Porter in 2012:
“I’m one of those who still feel very strongly that one of our greatest charges that we can have today, is to train the civilians in the use of the standard military firearm, so when they have to fight for their country, they’re ready to do it. Also, when they’re ready to fight tyranny, they’re ready to do it. Also, when they’re ready to fight tyranny, they have the wherewithal and the weapons to do it. I charge you ladies and gentlemen that that is a very important charge for all of us to take up. It’s a sacred duty for all of us to maintain. We’ve received it from our ancestors.”
Jim Porter is also a member of the “guns for kids” crowd. Have a peek at him in the video below, as he urges members of a New York gun club, “Get your children involved. Teenagers. Get your friends involved. Every time you take your nephew out to the gun club, every time you take your daughter out skeet shooting, every time you take your grandchildren out, we’re passing on the legacy of freedom.”
If you watched the video above, Jim Porter may have seemed to you to be nothing more sinister than a badly insecure senior citizen, unhappy about a changing America. You may have even felt a pang of sorrow for him, and all the NRA members like him, who have no desire to hurt anyone, but are genuinely terrified of life without a gun within reach at all times. It’s not an easy existence, to see conspiracies everywhere, and to be worried every minute of every day that someone is out to do you harm.
Look at the faces of the Stand and Fight crowd as they listen to this year’s “leadership speeches” in the photo below. Just like Jim Porter, they look like regular, non-threatening people; the sort of people who pass through our lives everyday. You can’t help but want to reassure them that America will be fine; that what they fear is a Charleton Heston movie plot, not reality. Black citizens are not going to retaliate for slavery. Latinos are not going to usurp their jobs or make them speak Spanish. President Obama has no plans to take their guns away. If only it were a security blanket, or a teddy bear these NRA men needed to feel secure, we would be sponsoring stuffed animal drives to ease their worried minds . But unfortunately, the only thing that seems to alleviate their paranoid delusions is the very same thing that increases the danger for those of us who don’t live in the world where President Obama is plotting against America: guns.
Guns give them the illusion that they are important, powerful men.
Though he may seem, at first blush, like a harmless old coot who has yet to cross into the new century, the installation of Jim Porter as the new NRA president marks a clear and present danger in the struggle for gun sanity legislation. Jim Porter was selected because he is a federal gun rights lawyer, and the NRA wants to challenge in court all the new gun sanity legislation states like Connecticut and Colorado have enacted. Their plan is to roll back recently enacted gun sanity laws, and to press for a federal court ruling that says states must honor the right of a U.S. citizen to carry a firearm, if he is licensed to do so in another state.
Asked his opinion about his successor, outgoing NRA President, David Keene, told the Washington Times, “At this stage in the NRA’s history, Jim Porter will be the perfect match for president. As we are likely to win most of the legislative battles in Congress, we will have to move to courts to undo the restrictions placed on gun owners’ rights in New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Colorado.” NRA Board Member Carolyn Meadows, who chairs the nominating committee, said of Porter, “He has the humility of a country lawyer but the smarts of a New York lawyer.” Clearly a legal battle is in the offing.
The NRA spent their convention gloating about their victory in the senate. Now, with the election of Jim Porter, they have telegraphed what their next battle plan looks like. I hope our gun sanity forces have taken notice. We certainly have.
Stand and Fight Photos from the NRA Facebook Page
Jean Ann Esselink is a straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.