It has been a splendid season for gun lovers. The U.S. Supreme Court has decreed that the Second Amendment right to bear arms can't be undermined by state and local restrictions, Georgia has enacted a law that allows licensees to carry concealed firearms in airports and other public places, Virginia has enacted a law that allows licensees to bring loaded guns into bars, Louisiana has enacted a law that allows concealed weapons in houses of worship...is this nirvana for the NRA, or what?
Actually, the NRA is probably far from sated. What good are gun rights unless they are enjoyed to the fullest? Think of the possibilities. Think of the arguments that NRA lobbyists might dream up next.
A bill to permit the cleaning of guns during Sunday worship: "The right to clean a gun in church is an inherent extension of the Second Amendment. The right to bear arms is meaningless unless all arms are kept in good working order at all times, and nothing in the Second Amendment bars such ritual maintenance on Sunday mornings. We are a nation of multi-taskers, and Americans clearly have the constitutional right - not to mention the ability - to work with solvents and lubicrants while reading the Bible. A well-armed militia requires 24/7 vigilance, and we at the NRA will work with the churches to ensure that the pew-workshops are sufficiently ventilated."
A bill to permit the carrying of unconcealed weapons in coffee shops and similar beverage-based emporiums: "In the new economy, more Americans than ever before work in these environments, and empty tables are increasingly at a premium. On occasion, disputes may occur between patrons who covet the same table. Guns have been used to settle disputes ever since the Old West, and in no way are we suggesting that they be discharged in coffee shops. Rather, we at the NRA believe that the Founding Fathers recognized the deterrent value of guns. We believe that the Second Amendment implies the right to expose one's gun, as a way to defuse confrontation. Therefore, if an armed American prudently places his weapon on a table at Starbucks, thereby establishing ownership of said table, the act would duly inform the unarmed loser with the ear buds and the mocha frappuccino to go find another saloon."
A bill to permit unconcealed assault weapons at drive-through establishments: "We at the NRA believe that motorists should be allowed to drive to these outdoor windows, for the purposes of effectuating bank transactions or paying for Big Macs, without the clear and present danger of other motorists cutting into line. The constitutional right to bear arms does not cease when an American is behind the wheel; indeed, this is when he or she might be most exposed to external threat. We believe, for example, that your basic XM8 Lightweight Assault Weapon, or perhaps the Heckler-Koch G36, if pointed out the car window by a licensed driver or family member, and purely for defensive purposes, would duly deter those in rival vehicles who believe that their inherent right to speedily purchase a McDonald's Triple Thick Shake is greater than your inherent right. An armed militia ensures that all Americans have equal opportunities in the pursuit of happiness."
A bill that would allow gun-toting bar patrons to drink alcohol. The new Virginia law, signed by the governor in April, states that it's fine to bring a gun to a bar, but that those who do so cannot drink. Gun lobbyists are now complaining that this law treats the gun owners as second-class citizens, denying them the equal right to drink like everyone else. The gun lobbyists are pushing for a Virginia law that (in the words of one gun-rights activist) would allow gun licensees to tote their concealed weapons and drink as much as they wish - "as long as they are not drunk."
Well, guess what, folks. That latter item - the Virginia guns-and-booze proposal - is very real. So is the quote.
Yes, when it comes to the gun-rights lobby, satire is probably superfluous. As the great sportswriter Red Smith wrote 59 years ago, while beholding a fantastical event, "Reality has strangled invention."
I was live for an hour on Philadelphia NPR this morning, talking national politics with David Mark, senior editor at Politico, and Scott Huffmon, political science professor from Winthrop University in South Carolina. The program is archived here.