Founded in 1871, NRA has about 5 million members.  The power of the organization is legendary, especially the widely published report cards it issues giving A to F grades to lawmakers. The cards have been credited with the election (or defeat) of many candidates including incumbents. Even the nuances of the group’s affection, an A+ over an A grade, for example, can make the difference especially in Republican primaries.

That is why the NRA has anchored the opposition in every major gun-related debate since it altered its main aim from marksmanship to hard-edged political activism. That change came 40 years ago and was related to other shifts in political sentiment, including the departure of Southern rural conservatives from the Democratic Party. All these helped Ronald Reagan to be elected the first presidential candidate to ever be endorsed by the NRA.

So how did the NRA get so much power?  The group’s website offers the following introduction:  “While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world.”

The origin of NRA dates back almost to the Civil War when two former Union officers who had despaired over their wartime recruits’ poor shooting skills. Their idea was to educate a new generation of marksmen, whether for war or hunting or recreational target shooting.

Well into the 20th century, NRA was known primarily for promoting the safe and proper use of firearms, often in some form of cooperation with the government. The Army, at times, donated surplus equipment for training, and the state of New York helped NRA purchase its first shooting range.

The idea that people owned and used guns was a given in the early years of America. They were integral to frontier survival and rural life, and inherent in the wider American culture — a feature of folklore and tradition, a symbol of individuality and independence. In time, however, controversy over guns arose.

After Abraham Lincoln, two other presidents were shot by assassins, and Theodore Roosevelt sustained and survived a short-range gunshot wound, people began to talk about the availability of guns and the desirability of some restrictions.  Of course, NRA wanted to be part of that conversation.

The NRA wasn’t always staunchly opposed to gun restrictions.  In fact, the NRA of past generations worked with the federal government to limit the traffic in guns — for example, where ex-convicts or mental patients were involved.  When handguns became the focus, the NRA produced a subgroup devoted to them and supported state-level permit requirements for concealed weapons.

In the Prohibition Era, the conversation changed again with the urban use of shotguns and the fully automatic Thompson gun.  Bank robbers and warring gangsters became a target for lawmakers and as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1938 regulated such guns, banned some buyers and made gun dealers register with the government.

The NRA worked with Congress and the White House on those acts and supported their enforcement. The same was true when these restrictions were extended and tightened following the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and again by a 1968 gun bill responding to the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert Kennedy.

But in the late 1960s, there was also widespread concern about rising crime rates and the deadly riots that flared in the nation’s major cities. Citizens were concerned about their safety and turned to gun purchases for their personal protection. And many NRA members wanted their organization to get out in front of that.

In 1971, agents of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms killed a NRA member who was hiding a large number of illegal weapons. This stirred a restless reaction within the NRA rank and file. As a result, in 1975, the NRA’s top managers created its first lobbying organ, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA).  The ILA was headed by a Texas lawyer named Harlon Carter, an immigration hawk who had headed the Border Patrol in the 1950s.

“You don’t stop crime by attacking guns,” he said. “You stop crime by stopping criminals.”  Hard-charging and uncompromising, Carter was soon at odds with the Old Guard of the NRA who downsized his ILA staff. He fought back by organizing an uprising at the annual NRA convention in 1977 and forcing the power struggle into the open.

In the end, Carter won, ascending to NRA’s leadership as its executive vice president. He installed another hard-liner, Neal Knox, to head the ILA. The new marching orders were to oppose all forms of gun control across the board and lobby aggressively for gun owners’ rights in Congress and the legislatures.

This change in mission coincided with a new surge in political money. Decisions by the Federal Election Commission and the Supreme Court had opened the spillway on vast new reservoirs of cash.  Soon, the NRA became a tough force in fundraising and campaign spending at the state and federal level.  This, in turn, gave the group the muscle to move pro-gun legislation as well as to stop efforts at gun control. Carter proclaimed his group would be “so strong and so dedicated that no politician in America, mindful of his political career, would want to challenge our legitimate goals.”  The NRA has followed the path blazed by Carter (who retired in 1985) and Knox.



Over the years, Right Wing Conservatives, guided by the NRA, have continued to mis-inform the American people about the Second Amendment. Their false information states, among other things, that the Second Amendment was passed to allow citizens to arm themselves and to form militias to thwart government interference against states’ rights and for self-protection.  The NRA has also been instrumental in perpetuating lies about Democrats wanting to take guns away.  However, the real reason the Second Amendment was ratified and why it says “State” instead of “Country,” was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia’s vote.  In other words, slave rebellions became a problem for the southern states.  A review of the history of the Constitution, more specifically the Second Amendment, provides a vast amount of information on the rationale and concerns of its framers on how best to preserve slave ownership.

In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the “slave patrols,” and they were regulated by the states.  In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state.  The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.

As Dr. Carl T. Bogus wrote for the University of California Law Review in 1998, “The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search ‘all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition’ and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds.”

It’s the answer to the question raised by the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained when he asks, “Why don’t they just rise up and kill the whites?”  If the movie were real, it would have been a purely rhetorical question, because every southerner of the era knew the simple answer: Well regulated militias kept the slaves in chains.

Sally E. Haden, in her book Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, notes that, “Although eligibility for the Militia seemed all-encompassing, not every middle-aged white male Virginian or Carolinian became a slave patroller.” There were exemptions so “men in critical professions” like judges, legislators and students could stay at their work.  Generally, though, she documents how most southern men between the ages 18 and 45 – including physicians and ministers – had to serve on slave patrol in the militia at one time or another in their lives.  And slave rebellions were keeping the slave patrols busy.

By the time the Constitution was ratified, hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South.  Blacks outnumbered whites in large areas, and the state militias were used to both prevent and to put down slave uprisings.  As Dr. Bogus points out, slavery can only exist in the context of a police state, and the enforcement of that police state was the explicit job of the militias. Thus, the characterization of the Second Amendment by Conservatives and the NRA has nothing to do with self-protection or protection against government, but everything to do with the creation of armed slave patrols.

If the North were to invite into military service the slaves of the South, then they could be emancipated, which would collapse the institution of slavery, and the southern economic and social systems, altogether.  This possibility worried southerners like James Monroe, George Mason (who owned over 300 slaves) and the southern Christian evangelical, Patrick Henry (who opposed slavery on principle, but also opposed freeing slaves).

Their main concern was that Article 1, Section 8 of the newly-proposed Constitution, which gave the federal government the power to raise and supervise a militia, could also allow that federal militia to subsume their state militias and change them from slavery-enforcing institutions into something that could even, one day, free the slaves.

This was not an imagined threat because 12 years earlier, during the lead-up to the Revolutionary War, Lord Dunsmore offered freedom to slaves who could escape and join his forces.  “Liberty to Slaves” was stitched onto their jacket pocket flaps.  During the War, British General Henry Clinton extended the practice in 1779.  And numerous freed slaves served in General Washington’s army. Thus, southern legislators and plantation owners lived not just in fear of their own slaves rebelling, but also in fear that their slaves could be emancipated through military service.

At the ratifying convention in Virginia in 1788, Patrick Henry provided the following scenario:

“Let me here call your attention to that part [Article 1, Section 8 of the proposed Constitution] which gives the Congress power to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States. . . .

“By this, sir, you see that their control over our last and best defense is unlimited. If they neglect or refuse to discipline or arm our militia, they will be useless: the states can do neither . . . this power being exclusively given to Congress. The power of appointing officers over men not disciplined or armed is ridiculous; so that this pretended little remains of power left to the states may, at the pleasure of Congress, be rendered nugatory.”

George Mason expressed a similar concern:

“The militia may be here destroyed by that method which has been practiced in other parts of the world before; that is, by rendering them useless, by disarming them. Under various pretenses, Congress may neglect to provide for arming and disciplining the militia; and the state governments cannot do it, for Congress has an exclusive right to arm them [under this proposed Constitution] . . . “

Henry then bluntly laid it out:

“If the country be invaded, a state may go to war, but cannot suppress [slave] insurrections [under this new Constitution]. If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress . . . . Congress, and Congress only [under this new Constitution], can call forth the militia.”

Henry went on to say:

“In this state,” “there are two hundred and thirty-six thousand blacks, and there are many in several other states. But there are few or none in the Northern States. . . . May Congress not say, that every black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this last war? We were not so hard pushed as to make emancipation general; but acts of Assembly passed that every slave who would go to the army should be free.”

Henry was also convinced that the power over the various state militias given the federal government in the new Constitution could be used to strip the slave states of their slave-patrol militias.  He knew the majority attitude in the North opposed slavery, and he worried they’d use the Constitution to free the South’s slaves (a process then called “Manumission”). The abolitionists would, he was certain, use that power (and, ironically, this is pretty much what Abraham Lincoln ended up doing):

“[T]hey will search that paper [the Constitution], and see if they have power of manumission,” said Henry.  “And have they not, sir? Have they not power to provide for the general defense and welfare? May they not think that these call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power?

“This is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction. The paper speaks to the point: they have the power in clear, unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it.”  He added: “This is a local matter, and I can see no propriety in subjecting it to Congress.”

James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” and a slaveholder himself, basically called Patrick Henry paranoid.  “I was struck with surprise,” Madison said, “when I heard him express himself alarmed with respect to the emancipation of slaves. . . . There is no power to warrant it, in that paper [the Constitution]. If there be, I know it not.”  But the southern fears continued.

Henry even argued that southerner’s “property” (slaves) would be lost under the new Constitution, and the resulting slave uprising would be less than peaceful or tranquil:  “In this situation,” Henry said to Madison, “I see a great deal of the property of the people of Virginia in jeopardy, and their peace and tranquility gone.”

So Madison, who had (at Jefferson’s insistence) already begun to prepare proposed amendments to the Constitution, changed his first draft of one that addressed the militia issue to make sure it was unambiguous that the southern states could maintain their slave patrol militias.

Madison’s first draft for what became the Second Amendment had said: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well-armed, and well-regulated militia being the best security of a free country [emphasis added]: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person.”

But Henry, Mason and others wanted southern states to preserve their slave-patrol militias independent of the federal government.  So Madison changed the word “country” to the word “state,” and redrafted the Second Amendment into today’s form:

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State [emphasis added], the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Little did Madison realize that one day in the future weapons-manufacturing corporations, newly defined as “persons” by a Supreme Court some have called dysfunctional, would use his slave patrol militia amendment to protect their “right” to manufacture and sell assault weapons used to murder schoolchildren.

Once again, and sadly not for the last time, on February 14, 2018, a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, stunned the nation and shocked the rest of the civilized world, spurring a national debate about guns and gun laws. Seventeen people were killed, most of them students, and once again, and surely not for the last time, that debate features the pre-eminent organization of gun owners, the NRA.



Since Donald Trump has been in the White House, a considerable amount of evidence has surfaced about members of the Trump Administration colluding with Russian operatives who interfered with the 2016 election as well as possible evidence of “obstruction of justice” by Trump and members of his administration.  In the months leading up to the election, we learned that Donald Trump, Jr. met with a woman who was a “Russian government attorney” in hopes of obtaining damaging information on Hillary Clinton, according to emails that Trump Jr. released on Twitter.  These emails show that Trump Jr. believed that he was receiving “high level and sensitive” information that was part of “Russia and its government’s support” for Trump Sr.  That meeting, which included Trump Jr., former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, took place on June 9, 2016. His admission follows months of blanket denials from Trump officials about a willingness to collude with Russians during the 2016 campaign.  This incident is just one of a number of scandal ridden situations that continue to surface about the Trump administration. Some of Trump’s former staff members have already been indicted by Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.  Trump claims to be a Christian and it’s not up to me to challenge whether he is or isn’t.  I am proud to be a Christian and I have been curious about what the Bible says about following corrupt leadership. Based on my research, I have concluded that Christians should not follow or support corrupt leaders.

Ephesians 5:11 says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

The Bible is absolutely clear about how Christians must react to such things when exposed to them. We are to have “no part” or take no part in it, meaning not even a little, and tiny part. Having “no part” means avoiding the “works of darkness” altogether, and that means avoiding those who do them. In fact, we’re told to expose them because whoever breaks man’s laws also breaks God’s laws (Romans 13:1-5).

Romans 13.1 says, “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” If this is so, what about the bad governments like those that abuse their authority.  If God is the one who sets up governments, are we supposed to obey those bad governments?  The answer is no.

The Bible tells us to obey governments unless they violate Scripture. Acts 5:20 says, “We must obey God rather than men.” Whenever a government violates biblical teaching, Christians are obligated to disobey that government.  For example, if our government were to declare that we should kill all Muslims or Gay and Lesbian Americans as some Right-Wing Republicans have threatened to do, we should disobey.  Governments are run by people and there is much evidence in the Trump Administration that it has become corrupt.  Furthermore, the Bible never tells us to obey governments in contradiction to the revealed word of God.

In the Old Testament, God sent the Israelites to destroy different nations.  Technically speaking, we could say that God set up those various governmental systems that He told the Israelites to destroy.  But when systems become ungodly and anti-Christian, they are no longer properly representing God and should not be obeyed.

Are we seeing a conflict or a contradiction?  Not at all.   For example, Exodus 20, where we see two commandments: obey your parents and do not murder.  We can see that our parents are the authorities above us, even as governments are, and we should obey them.  But, what should we do it our parents tell us to murder someone? Should we obey?  Of course not.  Obedience to our parents is only proper when it’s consistent with the rest of the Scriptures.  Likewise, submission to the governmental systems is only proper when it is consistent with Scripture.

Genesis 6:5 tells us that “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

When Jesus was speaking about the end of the age, He mentioned that it will be like in the days of Noah and He said, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:37-39). Imagine how hard doing business would have been in Noah’s day when all that they thought about was evil, continually, and every intention (business or otherwise) was always with a wicked heart. Do you see similarities today? Everyone’s going about their business, just as in Noah’s day, when the flood of God’s judgment came sweeping them all away.

Hosea 9:9 says, “They have deeply corrupted themselves as in the days of Gibeah; he will remember their iniquity; he will punish their sins.”

The “days of Gibeah” are like those of today. When a “Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “I came to Gibeah that belongs to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to spend the night. And the leaders of Gibeah rose against me and surrounded the house against me by night. They meant to kill me, and they violated my concubine, and she is dead” (Judges 4-6). So the days of Gibeah are like those we live in today with increasing violence in American cities and suburbs unfortunately representing Trump’s America. The point Hosea makes is that God “will punish their sins” and no one will get away with anything on Judgment Day (Rev 20:12-15).

Proverbs 28:15 “Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people.”

This is a great proverb because that’s what it feels like when wicked rulers are governing the land and it seems to be what’s happening today. Proverb 14:34 says “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” and that’s what this nation and many other nations are before a holy and just God. President Ronald Reagan once said that the most frightening words ever heard were, “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.” When the wicked are in power, it’s often a judgment of God, just like He did with ancient Israel. It’s like the nation gets the leadership they (and we) deserve and so He may be using evil rulers as part of His holy judgment against the nations.

When a nation exalts God, God will exalt that nation, and it’s obvious to me that He has exalted the United States for hundreds of years given the kind of nation we have become.  Today, because of the Trump presidency, the United States can no longer be exalted because it no longer honors God’s core values such as taking care of the poor, showing love for everyone including Gay, Lesbian and Muslim Americans, and embracing and honoring the fundamental principles contained in the Bill of Rights that says, “that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These words remind those in government, not just in this country but in all nations, of the limits of their power, a moral boundary that must never be violated if the government is to retain its legitimacy.

Evidence seems to suggest that Donald Trump has a corrupt Administration, and its leadership is more interested in self than the people they should be serving.  The Republican congress has also become corrupt in a number of ways.  For example, despite evidence to the contrary, it refuses to hold Trump accountable for its actions including possible “obstruction of justice.” It has confirmed unqualified individuals as judges, some receiving life-time appointments.  Its committees that were established both in the Senate and House were supposedly designed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election yet they have decided to attack the FBI and the Justice Department in an attempt to halt the Special Counsel’s investigation.  Without any input by Democrats or even a hearing, they passed tax legislation designed to favor the rich but screws the middle class.  This “terrible” legislation does provide some temporary tax relief for the middle-class but provides permanent tax benefits for the rich and within the next several years, will cause several millions of Americans to lose their health care. To pay for the huge deficit this tax bill will cause, Republicans have started the process to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to be sure they are able to sustain the billions of dollars in tax cuts for the rich.

Romans 13:6-7, tell us, “For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” Notice that Paul says that the rulers are servants of God.  This is the context of the submission that is mentioned at the beginning of the chapter.  If our rulers are no longer servants of God and if they continue to contradict Scripture, they are not to be obeyed. Remember, it is God Who “removes kings and sets up kings,” (Dan 2:21). God removed Saul and he can surely remove Donald Trump, but this is just my take.