Here in the aftermath of the massacre in Aurora, Colorado, I’m trying to blame the National Rifle Association for more needless murders. Murders of the innocent. I’m trying. But I can’t. The media and lots of people will – but I can’t. There are villains here. But not most members of the NRA.

Full disclosure – I own a couple of guns. Neither has been fired in more than 20 years. But I own ‘em and I’m a pretty good shot. I don’t belong to the NRA and never have but several friends do. Good friends. Good people. Several are licensed to carry concealed guns.

Being a Westerner, I’ve grown up living around firearms all my life. Like most of us with similar roots, guns and shooting are part of my human environment. A rifle across the back window of a pickup would get you jailed in New Jersey. It wouldn’t be noticed almost any place in the Northwest. Even if we don’t own one personally, we’re used to ‘em.

One reason I don’t blame the whole NRA in this latest slaughter is because the psychopath who did the killing probably never gave the NRA a thought as he amassed his armory. He was intent on murder – consumed by what he was planning as the booby-trapping of his home proved – and a membership card in a gun association really had nothing to do with it. He was out to kill no matter what.

As for the NRA, it’s been a reputable organization of Americans who have firearms in their lives. Shooting schools, gun safety classes, media contact point for firearms issues, national source of information for those interested in firearms – just like any other professional association you and I belong to. There are many good reasons for such organizations. Most are very helpful and quite professional. To blame an entire group for what happened in Colorado – and all the other killing fields before it – would be wrong.

You want to blame somebody start with another psychopath – Wayne LaPierre – the CEO of the NRA. LaPierre and the small ring of supporters that have kept him in power far too long. It’s not necessary to finger the whole membership. That lets the really guilty off far too easily. Start at the top with the guy who is the face and the voice for the real trigger pullers.

And when you finish painting them in bloody red, take what’s left in your brush and bucket up to Capital Hill and use them on every simpering member of Congress supporting the NRA to save their own worthless skins.

LaPierre went “round-the-bend” years ago. Wrapped in diatribes about Second Amendment “rights” and bogy men plotting to make America “an unarmed society,” he’s become the lightening rod and “exalted one” for others who’ve lost touch with reality and still see this “wilderness” country as needing guns to protect us from God knows what.

Here’s an example of LaPierre’s twisted mind. Some months ago, he made a speech to his membership and blanketed the media with a new alarm about the government being ready to confiscate personal firearms. A lot of media ignored it because what he said made so little sense.

Now stick with me here. This gets a little weird. LaPierre charged President Obama is to be greatly feared and must be defeated because he will make confiscating weapons a major national goal if re-elected. He’s already got the plans drawn up and is just waiting for January, 2013.

When it was pointed out to him that President Obama has not proposed any such legislation or even made any public references to gun control over the last three years, LaPierre was waiting for them. “That’s just the point,” he said. “The fact that Obama’s done nothing dealing with gun control in his first term is absolute proof he’s waiting to go after guns in his second.”

That kind of sick “thinking” is what the NRA has become known for. LaPierre and the people around him who’ve covered his ass are to blame for what the NRA has become in the non-shooting public’s eye – not representative of the majority of members who pay the dues, run the gun safety classes and the kid’s shooter’s programs.

Most Americans are not gun owners. To them, the NRA is just another organization they don’t belong to. But to those of us who watch it and are concerned, the NRA has become something I’m sure it’s founders didn’t visualize. It’s one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington – well-financed and a serious threat to the longevity of too many members of Congress who are scared to death when somebody from the NRA shows up in their office waiting room.

You want to assign real blame for that Colorado theater massacre? You want to find out why we’ve had 9,000 gun deaths in the last year? More than 100,000 since 2000? You want to know why this country – on a per capita basis – leads all “civilized” nations in violent gun deaths?

I invite your attention to the members of congress cowering under that table over there. The ones to whom personal job safety is more important that your safety. The one that can’t – or won’t – make the connection between Wayne LaPierre’s ignorant and inflammatory speeches and gun fire in the neighborhood shopping mall or movie theater.

To be clear, we cannot stop psychopaths and other crazies from doing what they do. Laws on the books are powerless to stop any demented soul intent on mass killings. But we can listen to professional police – to those who too often have to face these irrational killers with their own lives on the line. We can do a lot about limiting availability. We can make the creation of a personal armory in the hands of crazies more difficult if not impossible. We seem to be able to take what we call “pornography” off the shelves at the store but we make no move to stop people from selling 100 bullet ammo clips for assault rifles. What sportsman – what hunter – needs an assault rifle and clips like those?

The assault weapons ban we had on the federal books has lapsed. Why has it not been renewed? Which members of Congress are refusing even to whisper the words? Why are gun shows and Internet sales not controlled? Why are people getting away with selling machine guns out of the backs of their cars? Why have we not done what nearly all civilized nations have done to make themselves safer countries in which to live?

Two answers. Wayne LaPierre and those around him who protect his employment – the real crazies. And members of Congress who put a higher value on their continued employment than your life – your right to public assembly free from fear. Your right to go shopping or to a movie tonight and not wonder “what if it happens here?”

The blame – the sick, gutless sponsorship for Colorado and other murder sprees – you can assign that to a handful of people you wouldn’t want to go to a movie with.

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