By Royal Calkins
In this upside down world, make that country, tragedies such as the February mass murder at Parkland High School turn out to be a good thing for the death merchants at the National Rifle Association. In March, the NRA raised $2.4 million, the most it has raised in any month this century.
In terms of fundraising, the deaths of 17 in Florida was the best thing that had happened to the NRA since the seeming rise of Hillary Clinton. A couple years back, gun lovers scurried to send money to the NRA because Clinton, when she got to the White House, was going to take everyone’s weapons away. It would have been a remarkable accomplishment considering that Barack Obama had already melted all the guns down.
Here’s where I’m going with this. If you’re still thinking about going to the big NRA fundraiser Saturday night at the Monterey fairgrounds, put your checkbook away. The NRA doesn’t need your money. It’s got enough to last at least through the midterm election after which, depending on how many incumbents are turned out, it will need to replenish its congressional bribery fund. But not yet.
Because some folks missed the news about the Parkland bonanza, there still should be a decent crowd Saturday, partly because each $60 ticket qualifies the purchaser for a drawing in which a lucky winner, and potentially a very bad neighbor, can go home with a Howa HCR 6.5 Creedmoor rifle with a special red, white and blue paint scheme.
There won’t be any guns for sale at the dinner but not to worry. One of the key sponsors, Marina gun dealer David Wasson, says on his Facebook page that he’s got enough AR-15s in stock to outfit a small militia. Unfortunately for the stoutest defenders of the Second Amendment, they aren’t the full-fledged, mow-‘em-down automatics but instead a sissified California version that takes some of the thrill out of rapid fire. (CORRECTION: Wasson’s store, Black Rifle Tactical, sells gun parts and paraphernalia but not the whole guns. Those you have to put together for yourself. The AR-15 components advertised on the Facebook page are just that, components.)
Flyers for the event don’t advertise any entertainment but there could be some excitement. The local Veterans for Peace chapter plans to be at the fairground in protest of the monetization of mayhem. If you’d like to join in, the peaceful types plan to gather at 4 p.m. and hour or so before the gun giveaways begin.
If you go, say hi to former Monterey County Sheriff Mike Kanalakis, who posted on Facebook that he plans to attend. He referred to himself as a “proud lifetime member” of the NRA. He didn’t say what qualified him for that distinction other than his ability to pay the dues.
I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from one of someone else from the ranks of law enforcement.
“In a complex urban society, there must be reasonable and responsible controls placed on the availability of armaments designed for use by the military. I could see no necessity in a free society for a lot of people running around with these things. While I have never been a gun-control advocate, nor believed gun control could be achieved by gun registration, I did hope we could bring some reasonable control to the situation. If we could raise the consciousness of the American people about the arms race occurring in our streets, maybe it could be brought to a halt. Liberty does not mean license.”
That was the late Daryl Gates, the hard-nosed Los Angeles police chief who repeatedly had to watch his officers duck and cover when confronted with artillery heavier than their own.