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NPR, CSGV think lack of military service reduces one's authority on gun rights

No matter what uniform he once wore, he's no more an authority on gun rights than the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker
No matter what uniform he once wore, he's no more an authority on gun rights than the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Writing for Newsbusters Saturday, Tim Graham discussed the January 9 Diane Rehm Show on NPR, titled "Where Gun Control Efforts Stand Today." As Graham points out, diversity of opinion appears not to be a priority on such programs:

One reason commercial liberal talk radio’s never quite succeeded is that NPR is a network with liberal hosts, liberal guests, and liberal callers. This perfect storm of unanimity displayed itself on Thursday’s Diane Rehm Show, when they discussed the push for more gun control. There were no guests from the NRA, just moderate Richard Feldman, who wrote a book about his “confessions of a gun lobbyist.”

Frankly, in calling Feldman "moderate," Graham might be letting him off easy, unless he meant "moderately anti-gun." In this lineup, though, which also featured former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband Mark Kelly, who has been heavily involved in forcible citizen disarmament lobbying since Giffords' shooting in 2011; Ladd Everitt, communications director for the rabidly anti-gun, pro-"government monopoly on force" Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (which changed its name from National Coalition to Ban Handguns only when they decided they wanted to ban so-called "assault weapons," too); and Ravi Somaiya, who blames "gun control" collaborator Dick Metcalf's recent employment problems on gun industry power and wealth; Feldman is clearly as close to "pro-gun" as NPR was willing to have on the air.

When the show was taking calls from listeners, "Bill," in Galax, Virginia mildly chastised Rehm's failure to note that Mark Kelly is a retired Navy veteran and astronaut--and therefore a "good, brave man," according to Bill. The relevance is not immediately made clear--do retired sailors/astronauts possess some kind of special insights into firearms, and the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear them, that lifelong civilians lack?

Bill wasn't done, though. He also felt compelled to claim that NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre avoided, via college deferments, conscription into the military throughout the mid to late '60s, but "here he is the icon of gun rights and all this stuff." And again, the relevance is unclear. Is furthering one's education, rather than marching off to an avoidable war that brought nothing but misery to the U.S. (not to mention Vietnam) somehow disqualifying for participation in the gun rights/"gun control" debate? Never mentioned, of course, was the irony of NPR listeners, in many cases at least the ideological descendants of the same people who screamed "Baby killer!" at returning Vietnam veterans, now casting aspersions for alleged draft dodging.

The CSGV's Ladd Everitt, while noting "certain rumors" presumably along the lines of Bill's allegations, admits a lack of "any hard evidence" of these notional rumors' veracity. Instead, Everitt wanted to make similar charges against rocker, hunter, and NRA board member Ted Nugent, and implying hypocrisy on Nugent's part for this alleged draft dodging decades ago, while "praising the military and acting as if he's their biggest, you know*, backer."

Assuming Everitt's allegations are true, does avoiding military service disqualify one from praising the military? For life? It is unclear, by the way, whether or not Everitt has himself has served in the military. His CSGV bio mentions him having once held a position as Chief of Policy Development for the Air Force Association, but that does not necessarily imply military service--not that the question would even matter, if not for his criticism of gun rights advocates who have not served.

It's also more than a little odd that Everitt would be so contemptuous of those who seek to avoid mandatory military service. One would think that a self-described "neophyte practitioner of non-violence" would have a bit more sympathy for those who reject war. Hardly seems in keeping for someone who purports to hold such reverence for Gandhi and for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Or perhaps that's not so odd, after all. With CSGV, their communications director's "pacifism" notwithstanding, believing in the government's "right" to kill troublesome citizens, why should anyone be surprised that they would also support the government's "right" to conscript other citizens as the trigger-pullers for that effort?

I have never asked anyone to give my views any more weight because of my stint in the Army, and I will never claim that a person who has never served is therefore less qualified to comment on gun rights and "gun control." Military service, past or present, plays no role in one's authority on the issue of the right to keep and bear arms--and neither does lack of such service--unless Everitt wants to argue that Timothy McVeigh was more qualified on the issue than was, say, Sarah Brady.

*That was one of 36 "you knows" by Everitt during the program--which actually puts him at a distant second place to Mark Kelly's 88 of them, including seven in one sentence. Leave it to anti-liberty jihadists to presume to tell the American people what we know over 100 times in the course of an hour.

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