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Auchter's Art: NRA's principled stance on mental health

Apr 14, 2017

ARTIST'S POV: Legislation was recently introduced in the state House to make Michigan a "constitutional carry" state. House Bills 4416-4419 would relax gun laws to allow many Michiganders to conceal firearms without having to get a concealed pistol license. It's kind of a melding of concealed carry with less restrictive open carry rules.

It made me wonder where exactly the National Rifle Association (NRA) position was on this. They advocated at some length in the past (especially after mass murder incidents) about the need for better mental health care in the United States and keeping firearms out of the hands of the unstable. These proposed Michigan laws seemed counter to that.

So I went looking for evidence, especially for anything related to the recent healthcare repeal and replace debacle. One of the guarantees under the ACA is that all insurance plans must provide for mental health services. There were several proposals to weaken or remove that protection in the frenzied bartering stage between the White House and the Freedom Caucus in Congress.

I didn't find anything on the NRA website like a press release or position paper. What I did find was a lot of videos, including a speech that NRA President Wayne LaPierre recently gave at Hillsdale College titled, "Why the Media Is Failing."

Wow. If ever you need a lesson on how to demonize those who oppose you while sanctifying those who support you, this is your primer. (Tip-of-the-day: Start sentences with "The truth is..." so everybody knows you are the sole arbiter of truth.) It really was a tour de force of partisanship, which is what it was intended to be and what the audience wanted.

It's just disappointing that guns seem to be one of those topics that can only be discussed in a binary way — either you are for them or against them. That's it. It's too bad because there are opportunities for, if not common ground, then common goals. The truth is (see what I did there?), the NRA using its considerable resources to safeguard and promote universal access to mental health services would be a tremendous opportunity.

John Auchter is an editorial cartoonist. Views expressed in his cartoons are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.