American Rifleman - July 2011 - 19

The Culture War

By Chris W. Cox
NRA-ILA, Executive Director

and the

SECOND

AMENDMENT
A

little over a decade ago, one of the
greatest leaders in the history of the
NRA gave a speech at Harvard Law
School entitled "Winning the Cultural War."
In that speech, Charlton Heston said,
"I believe that we are again engaged in a
great civil war, a cultural war that's about to
hijack your birthright to think and say what
resides in your heart. I fear you no longer
trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside
you ... the stuff that made this country rise
from wilderness into the miracle that it is."
Fighting the culture war was one of
Charlton Heston's passions. In that speech,
he highlighted the political correctness that
was spreading across America, warned of its
damaging impact on our First Amendment
freedoms, and challenged those students to
fight against it.
But the culture war is also being fought
against the Second Amendment. In the
most basic sense, it is a struggle to define
what is "accepted" in society and, by extension, what is not.
For many years, the anti-gun movement
has sought to make gun ownership socially
unacceptable. They portray gun owners
as irresponsible and reckless. They present
anyone who believes in owning a gun for
self-defense as paranoid. They attack hunters
as uneducated rednecks.
Their goal is simple. If they can succeed
in reducing the number of gun owners, they
will reduce the number of people who are
willing to work to protect the fundamental
Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
Recently, the Violence Policy Center
released a "study" claiming to show that the
percentage of households that own guns is
dropping. Predictably, the Brady Campaign
jumped on board to trumpet what it sees as
good news. Record gun sales over the past
few years suggest major flaws in the study,
but the real message they want to send

is simple: If you own a gun you are in the
minority, so just give up the fight now.
We don't buy the study, and we wouldn't
give up even if we did. It may not occur to
VPC or the Brady Campaign, but constitutional rights belong to every American-
both the majority and the minority.
As we fight for those rights, there are
some fronts of the culture war where NRA
can use the legislatures to find a remedy.
For instance, the NRA is fighting in many
states to remove restrictions on where
law-abiding permit holders can carry a
firearm, such as restaurants, public buildings and parks. Those laws try to marginalize us by suggesting that gun owners
are irresponsible criminals in waiting, too
dangerous to be allowed in places where
our neighbors gather.
We've also taken the legislative route in
Florida, where we're working to curtail the
information that doctors can collect about
the gun ownership of their patients. That
legislation is a response to another initiative
in the culture war against gun owners in
which national medical organizations such
as the American Academy of Pediatrics have
encouraged doctors to ask patients intrusive questions about firearm ownership.
Worse yet, these groups have even
called on their members to ask young children about the guns their parents may own.
These questions have often been followed
up with lectures on the "dangers" of a gun
in the home, usually citing pseudo-science
studies published by anti-gun researchers.
NRA has also used both the courts and
the legislatures to fight bans on gun ownership for people living in public housing. Our
threat of legal action convinced the housing
authorities in Newark and Wilmington, Del.
to reverse their bans on gun possession by
residents. Thanks to our legal team, these
agencies now recognize that they can't
July 2011 American Rifleman

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American Rifleman - July 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - July 2011

American Rifleman - July 2011 - 1
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