The NRA came to Emmaus Tuesday night.
“Gun control doesn’t work --we’ll say it a thousand times,” declared Suzanne Anglewicz, manager of political & legislative activities at the National Rifle Association of America.
Anglewicz said there is no evidence “whatsoever that can prove to us that gun control works. No one is going to tell us that it actually has worked because no one can point to any examples. We have the facts on our side.”
About 85 people gathered in Emmaus Fire Company No. 1 to hear Anglewicz speak on gun rights.
“We are not saying there is not a problem with violent crime in America,” she said. “Absolutely there is.
“The NRA believes very strongly in crime control, not gun control.”
Rather than focusing on “a piece of inanimate steel that a law-abiding citizen is going to own,” she said gun control advocates should be focusing on criminals and “deranged, psychotic people that clearly have mental health issues” and are using guns “incorrectly, illegally and in terrible situations.”
“Any time a deranged madman gets hold of a firearm, it always seems that afterward there were 500 red flags that everybody knew about, but nothing was done.” To find real solutions, Anglewicz said, any dialogue about reducing violent crime has to start with mental health.
Anglewicz described the NRA is a single-issue organization: protecting the constitutional Second Amendment right of people to keep and bear arms.
She also said it is non-partisan.
“The ‘R’ stands for ‘Rifle,” nothing else. We work really well on both sides of the aisle [in Congress] -- sometimes better on one side than the other.”
She said NRA has more than 4.5 million members, plus 30 million to 40 million supporters. She claimed the organization’s dues-paying membership is increasing.
She also said NRA has only five federal lobbyists -- “not armies of lobbyists. Our power truly comes from our educated members.”
Anglewicz said 100 million gun owners are in the United States. They own about 400 million guns and are acquiring many more every year.
“There are more guns in our country today than at any point in our nation’s history.”
One of the myths, she said, is “there are too many guns-- if there’s going to be more guns, there’s going to be more crime.
“In reality, there are more guns in this country and less crime. You can’t tell me more guns equal more crime. The facts don’t tell you that.”
The NRA spokeswoman cited FBI statistics that show violent crime peaked in 1991, but declined 49 percent in the next 10 years – to a 41-year-low. She added the murder rate declined by 52 percent – to a 48-year-low.
Anglewicz said Israel and Japan have very strict gun laws and very low rates of violent crime, but Switzerland has very little gun control and also has very low crime. She added Brazil also has very strict gun control “but the murder rates are off the chart.”
“You can’t compare the United States to other countries. We make up the largest portion of civilian gun ownership in the world.”
“Emotions are high and emotions have overtaken some of the facts,” said Anglewicz.
She said Washington, D.C, should be the crown jewel of safety because it has very strict gun laws – “in 1976 they decided that nobody in Washington, D.C., should have a handgun.”
Rifles and shotguns had to unloaded, disassembled or locked, with ammunition stored away from the guns. Rather than becoming the safest place in the United States, she said the murder and violent crime rates in the nation’s capital city went up “hundreds of percents literally overnight. From 1976 on, Washington was the murder capital, “rivaling places like Camden, N.J., and Detroit, Mich.”
Not until late in the program did anyone directly mention the December slaughter of 20 children and six adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. – which re-ignited the national gun control debate.
Regarding preventing future school tragedies, Anglewicz said the NRA is best situated to train paid professional staff that would be hired by schools “if needed.”
She added the NRA “absolutely” is not suggesting everyone should have armed teachers or guns in schools. But it is developing a school shield program, where schools can do self-assessments to help prevent such tragedies.
Stressing people need to be educated about facts and terminology no matter where they stand on the gun rights/gun control issue, Anglewicz got a laugh when she said she saw a protestor with a sign stating: “Stop high-velocity magazines.”
She said “'assault weapon’ is a made-up buzz term” used by the media. “There is no such thing as an assault weapon. But it sounds pretty scary.”