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Turn the NRA’s Weapon Against It | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Turn the NRA’s Weapon Against It

Senator Ted Cruz

Senator Ted Cruz points to a photo of a Remington rifle during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun control. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite.)

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

In 1934, the National Rifle Association’s lobbyist testified in front of the House Ways and Means Committee about President Franklin Roosevelt’s National Firearms Act. “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons,” the lobbyist said. “I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

The NRA testified, under oath, in favor of the nation’s first federal gun control bill.

Eighty years later, the organization believes not only in “the general practice of carrying weapons” but also, as Ronald Reagan once wrote, that the Second Amendment “appears to leave little if any leeway for the gun control advocate.”

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The NRA’s dramatic turnabout, and its decades-long campaign to change American hearts, minds and gun laws, is the subject of Michael Waldman’s compelling new book, The Second Amendment: A Biography. Waldman, the president of the Brennan Center for Law and Justice at the New York University School of Law, explains that the authors of the Second Amendment never intended to create an “unregulated individual right to a gun” and explores why, today, we think they did. Published three days before the rampage in Isla Vista, California, that killed six and wounded thirteen, the book shows how we got to this moment of routine gun violence—and offers a way out.

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

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