Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Guns.com has been trying to get an interview with the National Rifle Association.
In the wake of that tragedy, which reignited the national debate over gun control, we wanted to touch base with the NRA and get their thoughts on a number of issues, e.g. the expanded background check amendment drafted by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), what the future holds with respect to gun control both at the state and federal level, the NRA’s solution to gun violence, the NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, among others.
Well, last weekend at the 142nd NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, Texas, we finally got our opportunity to ask the nation’s gun lobby some questions. We spoke to the ebullient and eternally affable Stephanie Samford, NRA spokeswoman.
Samford had plenty of good advice for gun owners. Echoing the remarks of former NRA president David Keene, she warned us that the defeat of the Manchin-Toomey Amendment was “only one small battle in a long war” and that gun owners “can’t get complacent,” that we need to stay politically engaged because “bad bills are coming from every direction.”
As for the NRA’s solution to gun violence, Samford said creating more gun laws will “do nothing.” Instead, our government needs “to fix the broken mental health system and prosecute violent criminals” to the fullest extent of the law.
Her answer to our last question, regarding the NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment was quite interesting. She said the NRA does not believe in putting arbitrary boundaries on our right to keep and bear arms. To some extent, one can argue that this conflicts with what the Supreme Court has ruled in recent years.
Justice Anton Scalia, who wrote the DC v. Heller ruling that overturned the District’s ban on handguns, has said in an interview with Fox News Sunday that “there are some limitations that can be imposed,” adding that, “what they are will depend on what the society understood was reasonable limitation” when the Constitution was written.
Truth be told, we only really scratched the surface on this particular topic. We probably needed more time to really explore this issue. However, and although she didn’t say it, I’d bet that the NRA is somewhat content with the high court’s current position on the Second Amendment, i.e. it’s an individual right that extends to traditionally lawfully purposes like self-defense within the home.
Obviously, like all gun rights organizations and gun owners, the NRA would probably like to see some form of carry (open or concealed) be explicitly protected under 2A, but for the time being and given the way things had been prior to the Heller decision, they’ll take the status quo (for more this subject, check out our interview with Constitutional law professor David Kopel).