The NRA is a Fetish Club That Eats Kids
by Joe Váradi
I held a gun with live ammo exactly one time in my life.
Luckily it did not give me a hard-on.
In fact it scared the shit out of me.
A college buddy who grew up in the outer boroughs of New York City and had a mild fascination with guns invited me to a shooting range, on a beautiful sunny day in early September of 2007.
It was the weekend, and the range he had in mind was holding a friends-and-family open recruitment event.
We drove roughly 40 miles due west of the city to a place called Highland Lakes in New Jersey. The country gradually turned to rolling hills. Pickup trucks started to outnumber SUVs. Country stations crowded out R&B on the FM dial.
By the time we arrived, a decent crowd had gathered, folks young and old, including families with children. Coffee and pastries were served, compliments of the house. After brief introductions, the group guide gave us a safety refresher. He started by asking how many of us had fired a weapon before. I looked around — a good two-thirds of those present raised their hands. Next question: who knows the three basic rules of gun safety? The crowd grew shy and quiet.
A ten-year-old boy finally ventured a guess: “Always point your gun down?” “Almost, but not exactly,” replied our guide. “After all, what if you are in your upstairs bedroom, and your mom and dad are in the living room below,” he said, injecting some much-needed levity into the discussion.
I felt my stomach turn, and I suspected that it wasn’t the danish.
He went on to clarify the three rules (I paraphrase from memory):
- Always point your gun in the safest direction, given the circumstances. At the shooting range, this will typically be in the direction of the target.
- Keep ammunition away from the gun until you’re ready to shoot.
- Keep your fingers off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
It was now time to head out to the range. As I walked around the grounds from station to station, mingling with the folks who appeared more at home in this setting than me, many wearing 2nd Amendment t-shirts, many discussing their own gun collections, I started to form a clearer impression of what fuels American gun culture. These folks were not here to make political statements; they weren’t here to exercise constitutional rights; they weren’t here to form “well regulated militias” to guard against government overreach. They came to act out fantasies — of being soldiers, hunters, law men or perhaps outlaws. They came to transport themselves into the mythical worlds of Call of Duty, or Duck Hunt, or Grand Theft Auto. They came to satisfy a fetish.
I did alright with the long rifles and the skeet shooting, but when we got to the handgun shooting range and I held a 9mm pistol in my hands, I suddenly got queasy. I imagined how quick and easy it would be for someone to snap and turn the gun on himself, or to spray this crowd of jovial yet responsible gun enthusiasts with bullets.
The range that I visited that day was run by the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, the official in-state affiliate of the NRA.
As we ask “Why?” and “What now?” after each mass shooting in America, and as the dialogue immediately runs into the double-layer brick wall of cultural resistance and political inertia, it seems that there is one predominant force, propping up the wall, pushing back ferociously from the other side — the NRA.
The NRA that counts around 5 million card-carrying members but claims to speak for a much larger segment of the American public.
The NRA whose impressive PR apparatus kicks into high gear after every major gun-related incident to derail any talk of sensible gun-control legislature as attacks on the Constitution and our most sacred civil rights.
The NRA that has so many politicians by the balls, not just due to its fundraising efforts, but because it is so effective in mobilizing voters for candidates that pay lip service to gun rights.
So if we want to push back against the tide and effect real change, and maybe see fewer kids shot down in our streets & schoolyards, we can start
- at the ballot box — by not supporting any candidates who take money from or vocally court the support of the NRA;
- with our words — using our craft, writing think pieces, rants, satire … ridiculing, cutting through the veil of hypocrisy, calling out the truth about the NRA that has managed to brand itself as a champion of civil rights and individual liberties, when in fact it is nothing more than a lobby for the gun industry, and a fetish club for folks who get off on shooting at things, a doomsday machine that caters to the childish fantasies of adults, and leaves a trail of dead children in its wake.