The cynic in me fears that no one will be able to pry guns out of people's hands until someone invents an even more efficient portable killing machine than the gun. What that will be, I dread to consider, and I hope I'm dead and gone before someone invents it.

But the optimist in me hopes that we will have the courage to tell the NRA to take a flying leap on a rolling doughnut. The almost insane defensiveness that the NRA has over the Second Amendment does not reflect a cerebral adoration of the Constitution. It is way too visceral for that. It borders on rabid. It represents a love of money and power, and perhaps a genuine terror of and hatred for people. It represents an addiction to one's toys by the buyers, and a worship of profits by the sellers.

Desi Doyen on radio station KPFK explained how, at the 1977 annual convention of the NRA, political operatives associated with the Republican party won control of the leadership and changed the by-laws and the focus of what had been, until that point, a 106-year-old sporting organization in favor of gun training and safety, and even - what a shock - reasonable gun-control laws. After 1977, it became a powerful political lobbying organization for the small-arms industry. Always follow the money trail.

And always follow the voting trail. As Doyen said, the NRA was turned into a political organization because "fights over rights are effective at getting out the vote." The idea that the founding fathers, in the Second Amendment, were referring to an individual's right to bear arms (as opposed to referring to the possible need of a small, newly minted country to arm a militia - with muskets and gunpowder, mind you) was an interpretation that was not only novel, but laughable before the NRA's 1977 makeover. Here's a fun factoid: President George H.W. Bush resigned from the NRA in the 1990s. It was getting too wacko for him.

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