Filler: The NRA has an 'enemies list' and I want to be on it
The "enemies list" of the National Rifle Association only seems long until you consider who was left off: the 79 percent of NRA members who support universal background checks for all gun purchases, in opposition to the stand the organization has taken so publicly since the Newtown massacre. Tack on these millions of NRA members, and you're looking at serious toner-cartridge issues.
The NRA posted this list of organizations, corporations, media outlets, celebrities and journalists last September, but it started attracting notice this week. Personally, I'm just hopping mad because I didn't make the cut. It's like hanging out at a bar known as a disgusting pickup joint and getting nary a leer.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma made the list, but they may oppose shootings out of sheer laziness. The American Medical Association, American Bar Association, Children's Defense Fund, National Association of Police Organizations and dozens of other clearly fringe groups also made the list for a variety of stands the NRA dislikes.
Then there are the religious organizations: the United States Catholic Conference, United Methodist Church, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Episcopal Church-Washington Office, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and many others.
And the bizarre corporate list: the Kansas City Royals? It's noble of them to oppose gun violence, considering that their only shot at winning a World Series lies in the pitching staffs of all other major league teams shooting each other. And they still wouldn't be favorites. The Sara Lee Corp.? C'mon, NRA. Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee.
But it's the media, journalist and celebrity lists that really peeved me. Newsday didn't make it, but Motorcycle Cruiser magazine did. Really?
And where am I? When you consider that the NRA singled out Robert Reno, a former Newsday columnist who died in July, several months before the NRA posted its list, exclusion stings.
"Mork and Mindy" actress Pam Dawber made the cut, as did "M*A*S*H's" Mike Farrell, who I thought died in a tragic mustache accident years ago. Even Dweezil Zappa made it, and Moon Unit, Diva, Gail and Ahmet. If I'm less dangerous to those I oppose than the Zappas, I should have listened to my guidance counselor and been a hobo.
At one time I would have been proud to be skipped, because I'm pro-gun. But lately, I have trouble with the NRA's stance on some issues.
I believe in the right to bear arms, within reason. We definitely can have rifles and handguns. We definitely cannot have nukes. In between lies the reasonable barrier.
I also think one of the reasons people have the right to weapons is to protect themselves from despotic agents of the government. When a liberal asks me, "Why does anyone need a gun?" I answer, "Well, if you're Rodney King or Abner Louima, you need a gun to defend yourself against maniacal cops."
So why the wedge between the NRA and me? The group has always argued, "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns," and endless restrictions on ownership only affect law-abiding citizens. True enough.
That means that if we want law-abiding people to have gun rights, we have to impose strong safeguards to keep criminals and the mentally ill from getting weapons. The NRA, though, is fighting universal background checks. In this, the NRA is siding with the rights of criminals to own guns, and weakening the argument of responsible people.
As long as it maintains that stance, I want to be on its "enemies list." So, according to polls, will most of its members. I don't mean to be prideful, but if Marla Maples is on the list, there ought to be room for me.
Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.