To put this in context, I don’t own a gun and I’m not a member of the NRA (although I did own a rifle for a brief period of time when I was 17 years old). Like any normal human being, I was deeply disturbed by what happened in Aurora, Colorado, and I am genuinely distressed that someone who quickly went over the edge was able to obtain advanced arms that allowed him to massacre a group of innocent movie-goers. I would really like to stop people from obtaining those weapons and I am very frustrated that I cannot.
The reason is that Mr. LaPierre has adopted an absolutist policy towards governmental controls on the acquisition of guns and ammunition. On the face of it, this appears to be a highly unreasonable policy, but it is a position that has been adopted because of the reality of our government and its laws and regulations over the past century.
Our history has seen several scenarios in which the general public was seduced to accept a questionable policy that its proponents assured us would remain small, and affects only a tiny minority. Income taxes approved by the 16th Amendment started at 7% of income above $500,000 (that’s $10 million in today’s dollars). Tax rates for Social Security started at 2% up to $3,000 (which is about $50,000 today). When Medicare was implemented in 1965, it was estimated that its cost in the year 1990 would be $9 billion. The actual number was $67 billion.
All of this took place in an era where Republicans were heavily outnumbered in Congress and basically were limited to being backbenchers. From 1933 until now, Republicans have controlled the Senate 18 years and the House 16 years most of which occurred in the last 20 years. More often than not, Democrats enjoyed staggering majorities that totally marginalized Republicans, who, in effect, could only sit and watch.