Washington My official membership arrived in the mail today, but I am not a member. Of what? The National Rifle Assn. Along with my plastic membership card came the "2001-2002 Official NRA Gun Owner Survey," which included the following questions. (Our proposed questions are in parentheses.)
1. Do you believe the U.S. Constitution guarantees your personal right to keep and bear arms?
(1a. Do you believe the U.S. Constitution guarantees "everyone, including felons" the right to keep and bear arms?)
(1b. Does the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantee only a well-regulated militia the right to bear arms?)
2. Certain members of Congress say that only the police and military should be allowed to own and use firearms, and that civilian gun ownership should be outlawed completely. Do you agree with this position?
(2a. Do you believe "some guns should be outlawed and some people should be prohibited" from gun ownership?)
3. Do you support national gun registration?
(3a. Do you see a difference between vehicle registration and gun registration?)
4. Do you support the NRA's efforts to establish mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes, and to end parole so violent criminals must serve their full terms?
5. Do you think gun owners should be licensed and fingerprinted by the government?
(5a. Do you believe gun owners should be licensed and not fingerprinted just as drivers are?)
6. Do you think gun owners like you should be required to buy expensive liability insurance for every gun you own?
(6a. Is there a difference between requiring auto liability insurance and gun liability insurance?)
7. Do you think gun-owner homes should be subject to surprise inspection by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF)?
8. Do you think private gun ownership helps prevent violent crime?
9. Do you agree that law-abiding citizens should have the right to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense?
10. Do you support the NRA's efforts to teach firearms safety and marksmanship to young people?
11. Do you support the FBI's proposal to maintain detailed computer files on every gun purchaser in the nation?
12. Do you agree with members of Congress who want to ban all hunting on public land?
(12a. Can you name any members of Congress who want to ban hunting on public land?)
If you wish to respond to either or both surveys, send your response to Anderson & Cohn, c/o this newspaper.
Clearly, we are advocates of gun registration and gun-owner licensing, two requirements that can only increase safety while simultaneously allowing people to protect themselves and their loved ones and allowing hunters to practice their activities unabated.
Just as clearly, we take issue with scare tactics that imply the government wants to take away your guns and monitor your activities.
Auto registration and driver licensing has not made us less free, but it has made us safer. How would the same requirements for guns and gun-owners be any different? It's time for the NRA to realize this and lead the parade.
Political Correspondent Eleanor Clift contributed to this column.