To the editor:
The position shift on gun control by the Republican Party in the late 1970s has made legislation on that subject all but impossible today.
Prior to that shift the Republican policy to be tough on crime endorsed gun control. The Republican Party Platform in 1972 supported gun control. President Ford had proposed gun control legislation. Both the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Republican Party were supportive of the Gun Control Act of 1968. That change occurred in the NRA at its annual meeting in May of 1977 when the existing leadership was changed and a political group took control.
The NRA changed from more of a sportsman and hunters organization, espousing gun safety to a more political group for the right to keep and bear arms. It became active in seeking to change the unanimous decision of the 1939 Supreme Court decision in U.S. vs. Miller that held that the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms applied to the citizens Militia and not to individuals.
The "gun rights" of the NRA joined with "family values" and anti abortion to become major planks of the conservative agenda. It was a major force in the election of 1980. The right to keep and bear arms was asserted as an individual right for the protection of the individual, his family and his "freedom." That position was affirmed by the Supreme Court in Heller vs. DC in 2008.
What is farfetched and a cause of apprehension is the gun ownership purpose in the Constitution of individuals if for their protection from their perceived interference with their freedom. The membership of the NRA, while only one-tenth of one percent of the population, has become a political force that most members of congress do not wish to affront. Reasonable legislation on gun regulations will not occur when continuity in Congressional office is more important than any accomplishment.
Arnold E. Kempe