To hear NRA’s officials and their bought and paid for representatives in our Congress tell it, even the smallest piece of legislation that would move us forward towards background checks is the proverbial “slippery slope”. Once we step on it, then it’s a sure slide down to next identifying existing gun-owners, then locating them, and finally coming to confiscate their weapons. Thus disarmed, ordinary citizens would be at the mercy of a “tyrannical government” bent on imposing its will upon us and abridging our most cherished freedoms.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who either endorse this paranoid scenario wholeheartedly, or have the nagging suspicion that it just might be true. They see no existing counter-weight like conservatives in Congress who would act to prevent any of this from happening. Nor is there any processing of the reality that nothing remotely close to such government overreach has taken place; not now, not recently, not in the past, not ever!!

The NRA relentlessly feeds this narrative while at the same time, grading members of Congress on their Second Amendment-related voting record. Intimidation in the form of running a primary challenge against incumbents suspected of being “weak” on defending gun rights is a big third part of the organization’s MO.

As shown by the recent 54-46 vote on the relatively innocent Machin-Toomey bill promoting background checks, the NRA’s strategy is working. This piece of legislation, crafted by a right-leaning Democrat (Machin) and a solid Republican (Toomey), sought to create a very limited range of background checks vis a vis  the sale of guns at shows and by private owners. It was purposely composed to be no better than a small step forward, and thus as free as possible of controversy.  Of course, in the bizzaro world of the NRA and its most zealous adherents, any step forward is part of the plan to edge us towards the “slippery slope”.

To really impress upon readers just how bad this recent history is, understand that the vote on Machin-Toomey was solely for the purpose of bringing the bill to the senate floor for debate. By preventing that from happening, 46 senators said in effect, We don’t even want to talk about this!” This is a breathtaking statement from what was once called “The world’s greatest deliberative body”.

The level of cowardice we are witnessing should tell you just how broken our system of government is, and how our elected representatives’ behavior is being driven by lobbying and corporate interests rather than the will of the people.