RFT Founder Ray Hartmann Really Lets the NRA Have It

Categories: Politics
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This is the kind of gun used to kill 27 in Newtown
Some you readers are gun-rights absolutists. We know this from the comments you leave on our blog posts.

Thus you may be interested to know that on Friday,  just hours after a deranged young man shot and killed 27 people (including 20 children) in a Connecticut school, Riverfront Times' founder Ray Hartmann wrote a message directly to you on the blog of his St. Louis Magazine
Those poor little children in Connecticut were a lot more precious than your Second Amendment rights could ever be.

Chew on that for a second.

Now, anybody who's ever watched Donnybrook will know that Hartmann leans left, but that doesn't mean he's a dove: Just hours after the barbaric attacks of September 11, 2001, he wrote in our pages (which were still his at the time) that if the jihadists insist on war, then we should oblige them with one.

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RFT founder Ray Hartmann
Similarly, on Friday, Hartmann wrote that our nation has just suffered a 9/11-type tragedy on gun control, and we should declare war on assault weapons. His solution: Renew the 1994 federal assault weapons ban.

That law, which expired in 2004, prohibited certain assault weapons and magazines with more than 10 rounds.

What difference would this have made in Newtown? The media is now reporting that police who investigated the grisly crime scene in Newtown recovered several spent magazines of 30 rounds.

It stands to reason that if the shooter would've had to reload more often, he would've been slowed down. Perhaps a few lives would've been spared before authorities caught up with him.

(A gun-rights absolutist might argue that, no, a ban on high-capacity magazines wouldn't even have helped because the madman could've just reloaded really fast. Well then, fine: You can do the same thing when you're "defending" your property with an over-the-top assault rifle used by Western militaries)

So why did the assault weapons ban expire in 2004? Hartmann blames the influence of the National Rifle Association, and wonders what they're doing right now:

The NRA can go to hell.

If NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre was a real man, he'd make his way to Connecticut to explain to those grieving parents that the guns didn't kill their children, the shooter did. Or maybe he could tell them that the tragedy could have been avoided if only the teachers had been armed, or perhaps the children were themselves. Or maybe he could tell them about how precious the Second Amendment is.

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Wayne LaPierre of the NRA
You'll rarely -- maybe never -- hear a mainstream American politician speak this way, because the NRA has incredible sway over them. But there's a reason for that, which Hartmann doesn't mention: The NRA have incredible sway over voters. As we've written before, they're adept at stoking fear among members that the Obama administration has a secret plan to strip them of their guns and leave them defenseless in their homes.

Somehow, for certain people, that abstract and outlandish notion is scarier and more real than events like Newtown. 

We agree with Hartmann when he wrote that a balance is necessary:

Yes, gun ownership should be legal, but it's not a civil liberty that must be uniquely protected from any form of regulation. Freedom of speech doesn't mean you can threaten to kill people. Freedom of religion doesn't mean you can perform ritual sacrifices. Freedom of assembly doesn't mean you never need a parade permit.

So the question is, what's the right balance? What's more precious to you? Keeping the Second Amendment safe from any restrictions, or keeping our children safe from assault-rifle-toting lunatics? 

As assault-weapons ban like the one that expired in 2004 might not be the magic solution. But it's certainly hard to imagine someone inflicting the same damage with a knife, or even a hunting rifle.

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Fortunately, Ray Hartman is only one voice.  Unfortunately, we have to listen to his useless diatribe.  Those that think we can legislate our way to a solution to this senseless tragedy are either naive or just plain stupid.  No matter how hard you try, you cannot rationalize an irrational act.  Punishing law abiding citizens for something that a deranged criminal hellbent on murdering innocents does might make the Michael Moores and Ray Hartmans feel better, but accomplishes absolutely nothing but to penalize the law abiding, responsible gun owners.  Criminals won't care if one or one hundred new laws are passed because they don't abide by the laws already in existence.

JamesMadison topcommenter

And is my Second Amendment Right more precious than those children? Not on an individual basis, but as a country, yes. Sound cold-hearted? Let's ask if Ray believes those children's lives are more precious than the First Amendment Rights? Freedom is not free. Preserving liberty is a deadly thing. Innocents are often caught in the middle. Does that make freedom and liberty not worth the costs? I can feel sorrow for the individuals who lost a love one. Tragic. But you do not honor those that died by ending liberty for all.

JamesMadison topcommenter

Can the RFT define "assault rifle"? The previous legislation did a poor job of that one. The most minor changes to some gun stocks turned a legally-defined assault rifle into a regular rifle.  the problem with gun-control laws being proposed is that people who have zero clue about guns are the ones proposing them. You would not stand to allow Todd Akin write rape laws, so why would we allow Ray write gun laws? Let's be honest in the debate - gun-control advocates want to take rights away from law-abiding Americans. They have no clue how to stop criminals. If banning something worked, we'd not have meth, pot, crack issues on the streets.


Gun owners that own modern sporting rifles (there is no such thing as an "assault rifle") and pistols with high capacity magazines like myself are, in fact, horrified by the events in Newtown and do not put their weapons' value above those of innocent children.  But neither are we stupid enough to think that any legislation yet invented will keep mass shootings from occuring because the AWB 1994-2004 was so good at doing that right?  The North Hollywood shoot out, Columbine, and the Atlanta Day Trader massacre to name a few.  A new AWB will do exactly what the old one did to stop mass shootings. Nothing.  Sorry Ray and Nick, but there is no legislative solution to this problem that doesn't strip freedoms from many to appease a few, delegitimizing rights for all.


The NRA is not powerful because of their sway of politicians.  They are powerful because of the support they receive from almost 5 million members and millions of other gun owners that are not members but care about their constitutional rights and vote that way.  The 2004 AWB was not renewed because its passage in 1994 was one of he primary reasons Democrats lost the house and senate and politicians remember and rightly so that they must honor the constitutional rights of citizens or they will lose their job.  Gun owners and the NRA will not allow our inherent rights to be infringed and will vote accordingly because we understand the folly of painting limiting the rights of many because of the irresponsibility of a few.

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