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Posted on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 8:09 a.m.

Politics, unlike athletics, a competition based heavily on loyalty rather than skill

By Robert Faber

Professional football is a game — a deadly serious game. It is a game involving vast sums of money and is physically challenging to its players. It is a game that rewards its victors with a level of fame and glory that is rare from almost any other source. But despite its impact on all the many people that share in its activities, it is still just a game.

But it is not the only game in town. Increasingly obsessive — and very much more consequential — are the games of politics, the games of governance. Such contests as football or downhill ski racing may be wild or satisfying or traumatizing, but the benefits and penalties of political victory or defeat are unmatched by any other sport. Wile the rewards of political games are massive, they often depend more on “loyalty” than on any particular skill, but when that loyalty is to the benefactor rather than the constituent, we have a problem.

gun_store_shelves.jpg

File photo from Ann Arbor Arms, a gun store in Ann Arbor.

Laura Blodgett | For AnnArbor.com

The most highly regarded professional team in this league is the NRA — the National Rifle Association — which sets the rules and wins every contest. They are not without their challengers, of course, mostly members of the Congress, but these tend to be untrained amateurs whose focus is elsewhere. The NRA’s particular talent is in revising the rules and purpose of the game, and then supplying the requisite equipment to succeed. The objective of the game of guns had always been the skill and accuracy involved in hitting the center of the paper target or in bringing down the unarmed deer, both of which which make accuracy of each shot the primary goal.

However, over the years, those antiquated goals of the game have been adjusted to include the new and highly sophisticated craftsmanship of the device itself. That exalted accuracy of the single shot has been replaced by instruments that venerate the number of bullets that can be fired before reloading, or the speed with which a round of bullets can be fired, or by its armor-piercing capabilities — all of which are unrelated to its earlier objectives.

Their success is in the exaltation of their unquestioned power — unquestioned, that is, by the opposing team of public officeholders. The fact may well be, however, that the NRA is little more than a paper tiger — a charge made by former Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell. As governor of a state with the nation’s second largest NRA membership, Gov. Rendell, even as a very vocal critic of the NRA, still managed to win his last three elections by very comfortable, mostly double-digit, margins.

A more pertinent local example of their overrated power is the case of Michigan’s former Congressman from the Upper Peninsula, Bart Stupak. As a Democratic congressman in a conservative district of gun-loving hunting enthusiasts, Stupak, himself a long-term NRA member, had been supported by the NRA — until he voted in favor of a minor gun control bill that infuriated them.

In fact, they were so upset that they found an alternative candidate, got him into the race to replace Stupak, then supported him with a massive infusion of funds. But even in this conservative district of gun supporters, the NRA — with all its power and prestige — could not defeat an honest and honorable supporter of some reasonable gun regulations. A paper tiger will not be defeated by paper bullets, but those fearful political players in our Congress might be made a bit more courageous by giving more heed to the power of the people over that of the lobbies.

Robert Faber has been a resident of Ann Arbor since 1954. He and his wife, Eunice, owned a fabric store and later a travel agency. He served a couple of terms on the Ann Arbor City Council. He may be reached at rgfaber@comcast.net.

Comments

Bill Wilson

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

Dear Editor, This isn't an opinion piece. It is a series of nonsensical hearsay constructed by a loopy-minded individual with no rhyme or season to its odd twists and turns. If you feel that you must publish a hit piece on the NRA, could you at least find one that makes some type of expressive sense, rather than just name-drop politicians quoted out of context?

Not from around here

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 12:19 a.m.

Somehow I envision Mr Faber sitting on a rocking chair on his front porch telling all of the neighbor kids how there screwing up his town. Look, you and the rest of the baby boomers had you chance, your screwed it up royally for future generations and now its time to sit back and let the rest of us clean up your messes. I love how this generation wouldn't just fade away with dignity. P.S. The Beatles ripped off most of there music and still stunk, get over them.

picabia

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 : 3:05 a.m.

Mr. Faber, you are one righteous dude.

A2M3

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

In a related story: http://www.theonion.com/articles/gorilla-sales-skyrocket-after-latest-gorilla-attac,30860/

Ricebrnr

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

"The most highly regarded professional team in this league is the NRA — the National Rifle Association — which sets the rules and wins every contest." "But even in this conservative district of gun supporters, the NRA — with all its power and prestige — could not defeat an honest and honorable supporter of some reasonable gun regulations." Argument - FAIL. You can't have BOTH an immovable object AND an irresistible force.

EyeHeartA2

Fri, Jan 11, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

Logic is never one of the strong points in one of Robert's rants.

demistify

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

There is a lot of similarity in public attitudes toward politics and sports, on the part of the spectators (voters and fans). They root for their side to win, even it means bending the rules.

buvda fray

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Tantrum acknowledged. When we don't like something, or perhaps we are scared of something, or we are opposed to a large group of people, apparently we write logical and substantiated articles extolling our correctness. NEWS ALERT: Evildoers still do evil in 2013. When seconds count, the police will be there in scant minutes. It is ethical, legal, and really OK to meet fire with fire if law enforcement professionals are not stationed in your living room. Perhaps Mr. Faber will mull these facts over a lunch derived from an unarmed chicken.

bunnyabbot

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

I was under the impression that there are many groups that lobby the government. Like the UAW for example. Anywho. The NRA isn't the issue. Guns that can fire more than a single shot at a time are not the issue. Nor are "defenseless deer". the issue at hand is the 2nd Amendment. Oh, and by the way. When the constitution was written the "well armed militia" had the most advanced arms of their time!

dsponini

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

This just in. Another "responsible" gun owner exercising his 2nd amendment rights! He's gonna need the NRA to defend him! http://www.clickondetroit.com/news /Gunman-arrested-after-firing -shots-in-Walled-Lake-neighborhood /-/1719418/18078614/-/format /rss_2.0/-/14d11qr/-/index.html

Major

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

How can you say this is a responsible gun owner? Quite obviously this person is anything but!! How can you say this person is exercising their 2nd amendment right? Obviously they were not!! I do know one thing for sure...you might want to get your facts straight before you rant!!

Bcar

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 4 p.m.

Please cite the reference that he was in fact a responsible and legal gun owner? or are you just winging it???

EyeHeartA2

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

" the National Rifle Association — which sets the rules and wins every contest" "But even in this conservative district of gun supporters, the NRA — with all its power and prestige — could not defeat an honest and honorable supporter of some reasonable gun regulations." Typical Faber column. Can't even keep it straight from the top of the screed to the bottom.

Brad

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Politics - a competition based heavily on MONEY. Follow the money!

Bcar

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

p.s. this article is dumb. NRA re-writing the rules? Really? Which specific rules did they rewrite? The constitution? Any particular laws? Please cite the Mr. Faber...I'll be waiting with a few tons of popcorn... I love how 10round magazines are the magic answer...yet you people who advocate that have no clue. Any competent shooter can change a magazine in less than 2 seconds...

Bcar

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

Just because the (small) majority of Americans voted for the current president and congress, it does NOT mean that he/they have the power to go against our constitutional rights. People need to look at the FACTS about violence in this country, not just ban some "black scary looking guns." Our violent crime rate has DROPPED 50% in the past 20 years! Homicide rates have also dropped significantly. Why aren't media outlets talking about that? I never joined the NRA due to a few disagreements with some of their views, however yesterday morning I did sign up and encourage every citizen to do the same!! Media misinformation, lies, wrong "facts," and politics should NOT tramp on the constitution!

Bcar

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

Violent crime rate: 1992 757 per 100k 2011 386 per 100k 2011 Murder total: 12,664 Knives or cutting instruments: 1,694 Hands/feet etc: 728 Clubs/Hammers etc: 496 *RIFLES*: 323 I could go on, but I don't think the FACTS support your agenda, so I doubt you'd look or care anyways...

Bcar

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

what sayzme?? I said that the current prez and congress were voted in by the majority, however it wasnt a large majority (RE: "small"). Regardless, they are not allowed to trump the constitution and that was my point. Im not making up facts, nor does the FBI. look into the FBI crime stats, thats what I did, I didnt cherry pick from foxnews (like others do from msnbc etc). Look for yourself and please report back to us, I dare you to! http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/violent-crime/violent-crime stop drinking the koolaid! I LOVE how some posts get voted down for telling/asking people to look at FACTS. all the educated people I know make important decisions based on FACTS and DATA, not emotion...

sayzme

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.

Got news for you. The majority (larger) voted for the President. That's what majority means. Quit trying to make up facts ala FAUX News Channel. People in this area aren't uneducated like the core of their viewership http://www.mediaite.com/online /that-ill-informed-fox-news -viewer-poll-actually-its- based-on-proven-methodology/

Benjammin

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

I am confused on the point of this article. The NRA, like any lobbing group, has limited political power which is the way it should be. What is this about the NRA revising the rules? The second amendment is not about hunting, it is about defense. I reasonable discussion on this topic is approprite but this article does not discuss gun rights, it just seems to want to slam the NRA.

Bill Wilson

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

Kyle, This isn't an opinion piece. It is a series of nonsensical hearsay constructed by a loopy-minded individual with no rhyme or season to its odd twists and turns. If you feel that you must publish a hit piece on the NRA, could you at least find one that makes some type of expressive sense, rather than just name-drop politicians quoted out of context?

EyeHeartA2

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

"This is an opinion column from Robert. " In other words, facts are secondary.

craigjjs

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

The Second Amendment is not about hunting or defense; it is about militias. It has somehow evolved over the years to become about manhood, or lack thereof.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Hi Ben- This is an opinion column from Robert. Although he is a regular community contributor we welcome all readers to submit opinion columns by emailing a letter to the editor at: letters@annarbor.com

dsponini

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

As always Mr. Faber spot on! The NRA is akin to a terrorist group and will throw fits when they don't get "their way".

GoNavy

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

I'm a gun owner, and you don't need a New York based newspaper to tell you that I live right next door to you.

Benjammin

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

Terrorist group? Gun owners are, like all citizens, allowed to voice their opinon. Just becasue you do not agree you define them as a terrorist group? This is not a reasonable discourse on the important topic of preventing a crazy person from killing others. It should include movie and video game violence as well as gun buyer background checks etc.