Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

May 13, 2009


Host: Ted Simons

NRA Convention


  • With a new administration in the White House, gun owners are concerned about their rights. That is sure to be an issue as the National Rifle Association holds its annual convention in Phoenix this year. Hear more from an NRA representative.
Guests:
  • Rachel Parsons - Spokesperson, National Rifle Association


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
The National Rifle Association's annual meeting takes place Friday through Sunday at the Phoenix Convention Center. It's a huge event expected to draw more than 50,000 people. Here to talk about the meeting and gun issues in general is Rachel Parsons, spokesperson for the National Rifle Association. Good to have you on the show, thanks for joining us.

Rachel Parsons:
Hi, there. Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons:
What is the goal of the convention? What do you want to do?

Rachel Parsons:
By our bylaws every year we have to have an annual meeting of members. We do all kinds of voting on the board of directors and things like that. But basically we are here in Phoenix to celebrate this unique American freedom. We want to be here to celebrate the second amendment and all of the great American hunting culture that we have and just the gun culture in this country. We're very proud of it and expect about 55,000 folks to come out with us and celebrate and having a good time.

Ted Simons:
The biggest concerns the N.R.A. has about the future of second amendment rights, what are the ones that seem to be coming up more often than most?

Rachel Parsons:
Sure thing. Well, we see all the time federal legislation coming up. But most of all we are concerned with what's going on the in the state. Typically when we see a firestorm it starts in the states and we want to combat all of the antigun legislation at that level. But, you know, we see things every year that are introduced session after session in the federal government, but, you know, there really is no appetite for gun control with the American public, and gun owners vote and that's why the national rifle association is so successful.

Ted Simons:
Lot of criticism of the N.R.A. and I'm sure you've heard all of it. Let's touch on a couple things we hear every now and then. The N.R.A. is too polarizing and confrontational, a valid assessment?

Rachel Parsons:
Absolutely not. In fact, the majority of gun owners in this country, there are 80 million, that's a large chunk of the American public. And the majority of Americans agree with the second amendment and they agree with the National Rifle Association. You know, we're a bipartisan organization. And, you know, we work across the aisle and we're a very mainstream, we, you know, believe that the burden of the law should be placed on the criminal. And law abiding people should be left alone.

Ted Simons:
But again, the idea that maybe the N.R.A. payments its critics in too broad a brush, too polarizing of an attitude, again, little bit of that, don't you think? Maybe a touch?

Rachel Parsons:
Oh, certainly not. In fact, when we talk about gun bans and ammunition bans that a lot of lawmakers are talking about. That in fact is very polarizing to the American public. We are just seeking fair and reasonable laws that attack criminals and leave law abiding people alone, again, you know, all of these laws that restrict lawful people are doing nothing to reduce crime. But we want to put all of that burden on the criminal, get criminals off our streets and let's live in a safer America.

Ted Simons:
Specific ideas, military style assault weapons, should they be legal?

Rachel Parsons:
Well, military style firearms are actually heavily regulated. I think that you probably mean machine guns and fully automatic firearms, it's a misconception that those are -- have been considered guns that are banned in America. They've been heavily regulated since 1934. What the Clinton gun ban addressed were semiautomatic firearms, firearms used by everyday Americans for hunting, sports shooting, self-defense. So when we talk about assault rifles or assault weapons, it's very misleading. The anti--- give credit where credit is due. The antigun lobby has done an amazing job to fool the American public into believing we're talking about machine guns or military style firearms but we're not.

Ted Simons:
So you agree those types of firearms, military style firearms, should be heavily regulated.

Rachel Parsons:
They're already heavily regulated.

Ted Simons:
You do agree that's a good idea.

Rachel Parsons:
Well, you know, we think that folks should go through all the legal channels to obtain those firearms. If they go through the background checks and they are lengthy, if they go through all the fees and the state requirements, then they should be able to own those firearms, but again it's lengthy and I tell you the process is quite difficult.

Ted Simons:
Well, let me ask you about that. Do you think the process is too difficult and too lengthy?

Rachel Parsons:
We think that anything that further burdens law abiding people is too restrictive. Again, anything to any law that puts the burden of the crime on the criminal who's committing it we would fully support. The National Rifle Association is 100% against criminals.

Ted Simons:
The idea of private sellers at gun shows being required to do background checks, again, a controversial one, I know goes back and forth. Why does the N.R.A. believe this is not necessarily a good idea?

Rachel Parsons:
Sure, well, this legislation has been up year after year, and the reason that the National Rifle Association is so vehemently opposed to gun show legislation is because every single piece of legislation that we've seen has also included not only background checks but waiting periods on those background checks, so there would be a 72 hour waiting period on an event that only lasts 24 to 48 hours, that is absolutely unreasonable.

Ted Simons:
So should these events even be held if that aspect of trying to make sure the criminal doesn't get the gun is unreasonable?

Rachel Parsons:
Well, actually F.B.I. recently did a study that proved that less than 1% of crime guns come from gun shows. That's telling. The fact of the matter is that gun shows are crawling with undercover A.T.F., undercover police officers, not a very friendly place for criminals. But if you want to really, you know, curb gun crime, again, we need to focus on the criminal and they're not at these gun shows. This is a civic event. This is fun for family, for cities, and so they're friendly.

Ted Simons:
Let's focus on the criminals. What is the best way to make sure bad people don't get firearms for bad purposes?

Rachel Parsons:
Sure, we need to prosecute every single gun crime to the fullest extent of the law. Pete them in jail, get them off our streets, be tough on crime. No more plea bargaining, no more dropping of charges for the sexier options. Let's get serious, let's put people in jail, put them in there for longer, you know, against we need to focus on the criminal, get them off our streets, but law abiding people are not the problem. They're following the laws; criminals by definition break the law.

Ted Simons:
Indeed, but again is there a better way than what we're doing right now to make sure these folks -- the gun trade, the illegal gun trade itself, how do you stop that?

Rachel Parsons:
It's already illegal.

Ted Simons:
It is illegal but how do you -- a lot of things are illegal but people still do them and you try to work on ways to get them to stop doing them.

Rachel Parsons:
Sure, absolutely, but creating more gun laws isn't the answer. You know, we have 20,000 gun laws on the books in this country, 20,000, 20,001st isn't going to make a difference. Criminals don't follow the law. They break the law. We need to remove the criminal element.

Ted Simons:
Last question, there seems to be again talking from the critics here, the N.R.A. always seems opposed to any regulation or anything that would put additional checks on weapons. Is that a fair assessment?

Rachel Parsons:
No. Actually the N.R.A. is the only organization who lobbies every single year for more funding to go into the national instant check system for background checks. You know, maintained by the F.B.I. and we lobby every single year to make that process a better process, so we put our money where our mouth is and, you know, we're all about firearm safety and training and putting those criminals behind bars.

Ted Simons:
All right. Very good. Thank you so much for joining us, appreciate its.

Rachel Parsons:
Thank you. Absolutely.

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