AN angry and exasperated President Obama, speaking to the nation last Thursday after the slaughter in Roseburg, Ore., made one oblique reference to the National Rifle Association, asking gun owners to question whether their “views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.”
It’s a fair question, and not only because the N.R.A. has single-handedly dictated the shape of the debate over guns for decades. Whether they own guns or not, Americans should understand the outsize role the N.R.A. plays, not only in thwarting sensible gun safety laws but also in undermining law enforcement by abetting gun traffickers, criminal gun dealers and criminal gun users.
The N.R.A., which claims some 4.5 million members, often professes to speak for all gun owners — hunters, sportsmen, collectors and ordinary Americans who keep guns for self-defense. But on some issues, most gun owners clearly reject the party line.