November 11, 2003

Up in Arms Over Guns

Who can forget the rallying cry of the American patriot? “You can have my gun when you pry my cold, dead finger off the trigger.”

The Second Amendment, we are told, is the greatest thing in the history of freedom since shrapnel. “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to bear arms, shall not be infringed.” I memorized that long ago, just as every American should. Don’t forget the part about “handguns on demand” and “the right to shoot down black helicopters.” Yee-haw!

Yes, the right to self-defense is the most unique and misunderstood amendment in the Bill of Rights. Like any right, it can be abused to the point of criminality. But I think most people are highly capable of reserving this right in a sane manner.

The National Rifle Association could use a few of these sane people for their top brass. Paranoid at the inevitable gun grab that’s going to happen next Thursday, the NRA has assembled a blacklist of people and organizations deemed “anti-gun.” In a fun twist of karma, it’s backfiring.

Actor Dustin Hoffman was so outraged by the list that he called the NRA and demanded that he immediately be put on it. He joins a bizarrely diverse crew that can be seen at

The NRA’s list reads like a who’s who of activism: Maya Angelou, Jimmy Carter, Walter Cronkite, Phil Donahue, Jane Fonda, Coretta Scott King, Rob Reiner, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Oprah Winfrey. And of course, there’s all of your favorite pacifist organizations and liberal columnists more famous than I.

The predictability ends there. Star athletes Doug Flutie, Keyshawn Johnson, Vinny Testaverde, Rick Fox, Mike Torrez, Tara Lipinski, Mary Lou Retton and John McEnroe lend their support, as do the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals and Rams.

Musicians include Babyface, Boyz II Men, the Temptations, NSYNC, Tony Bennett, Gloria Estefan, Sheryl Crow, Chaka Khan, Lenny Kravitz, Art Garfunkel, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Jon Bon Jovi, Missy Elliott and Ma$e.

Even actors and directors known for gunplay come down hard on the NRA: Richard Donner, director of the “Lethal Weapon” films, is one of the most outspoken anti-NRA voices in Hollywood. Spike Lee needs no introduction. Even James Bond himself, Sean Connery, likes his gun rights shaken, not stirred.

Gun owners also face the frightening prospect of answering the door and finding Drew Barrymore, Christie Brinkley, Jennifer Connelly, Mira Sorvino, Britney Spears, Michelle Pfeiffer, Uma Thurman, Vanessa Williams or former Baywatch girl Krista Allen grabbing their guns. Interesting how they’re on the list; must get lonely during those late nights at the Big Gun club.

A special award goes to legendary screen siren Lauren Bacall, who may be the only person to make both this blacklist and the McCarthy anti-Communist blacklist of the 1950s. That takes talent.

And while neither man is on the list, former President George Bush and Gulf War General Norman Schwarzkopf both resigned in disgust from the NRA in the 1990s. Pretty damning stuff.

Even more damning (pun intended), is the religious presence here. Count in the U.S. Catholic Conference, the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith, the Episcopal Church, Unitarian Universalists, the United Methodists, the Evangelical Lutherans and too many more to count.

Not even oil companies want to cooperate: Crown Central Petroleum and Site Oil both check in. But the best opposing organization has to be the American Firearms Association. Ouch.

Looks like it is possible to unite this great nation after all. United We Stand against the NRA!


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