I was raised by a father who lived to collect, repair, and shoot firearms of all sorts: ranging from early-1800s boot pistols to .30-.40 Krags to M1s to .30-06 deer rifles to muzzle loaders, pistols, shotguns, etc etc. I was taught to use these weapons safely and accurately on a variety of targets: paper, skeet, bottles, cans, and an assortment of game animals. I was taught to shoot only what I'd eat, respect the kill, and use all of it in gratitude. I was also taught the historical significance of many of these weapons and, above all, to respect their deadly nature. In this sense, my father was not and persons like him are not part of the current crisis regarding gun violence in the USA. He was a responsible, sane person who valued life, and took firearms ownership as a serious responsibility.
My father was a long-time NRA member and fervent supporter of gun ownership rights. I would safely put him in the "...from my cold dead hands" category of firearms owner. His view of the second amendment was absolute, it seemed: citizens had the right to own weapons. Period. I was taught the same by him, and the NRA magazines that came to our house each month reinforced this view.
Yet, I would ask him, once in a while, why we couldn't own a machine gun or a cannon. His answers came in two varieties: "Because we just can't" and "Because we don't need one of those". This was the first crack in the ice of second amendment absolutism for my younger self, as it opened the door to the concept of limitations and thresholds. I also saw relaxation of my father's absolutism when there was a large national conversation about armor-piercing "cop-killer bullets".
"David, nobody needs those..." he would tell me, adding that the people who make a big fuss about owning assault weapons, large clips, and armor-piercing ammunition, were going to ruin things for respectful hunters and law-abiding target shooters such as himself. "Ruin things" meant take his guns away.
So, clearly, even my ex-military very-conservative Republican NRA-cherishing father felt there existed common sense limits to firearms / ammunition ownership. I would imagine, looking at the polls of late, that there are a lot of NRA members who feel similarly. Yet, while they are not the problem individually, they are very much the problem collectively.
My father's problem was that he never directly challenged the NRA on its absolutist, no-limits, no-compromise, slippery slope rhetoric because he let his paranoia about having to register his weapons take over; he feared "the big government would know where to find them" when they come to take them away. It's an immoral choice, really -- choosing a hobby of weapons ownership and usage as well as a delusional certainty of some future civil war with the federal government over the lives of innocents, especially children.
That same anti-government paranoia dominates common-sense thinking about limitations on weapons ownership is also our societal problem, writ large.
I have trouble believing most second amendment-supporting NRA families believe the second amendment gives them the right to own a machine gun or cannon. That is, there are limits to which even they'd agree. A responsible gun owner knows better than anyone else that there are a whole lot of folks who have no business having a gun. They talk about this, I've heard the speech I don't know how many times at indoor ranges, outdoor ranges, hunting camps, etc. However, it also strikes me that many of these folks also have some fear that someone is going to take their guns as part of some coup-induced slide towards a dictatorship.
One would think that after the USA has had so many Democratic presidents, and gun enthusiasts still have their weapons, that there may be less to fear than they think. However, this is where the NRA steps in and says "Only because we have stopped these Democratic autocrat-wannabes from grabbing your weapons."
Say something untrue enough times, and it starts to look like truth. Welcome to propaganda.
Say something untrue about guns enough times, and innocent people lose their lives. Welcome to the NRA.
Maybe the problem is the second amendment itself. Maybe it has to go.
Personal weapons are not useful for national defense, and anyone that
thinks their deer rifle would match well against the US military (in the
absolutely ludicrous scenario that the US government turned on its own
citizenry) is, frankly, not to be taken serious by anyone. No other
hobby has constitutional protection. But this hobby is protected, costing thousands of innocent lives each year. And, because of a belief in an event with a probability lower than the sun crashing into the moon in our lifetime (the US government turning on its own citizenry), thousands of innocents die each year.