Thursday, December 20, 2012

Open Letter to the NRA and Second Amendment Supporters Everywhere

It’s been nearly one week since the tragedy at Sandy Hook and while the gun control movement has made great strides in organizing people and legislators against the Second Amendment, those opposed to gun control, notably the National Rifle Association have said very little.

Perhaps this is a wise move, given the acrimony that exists towards gun ownership in the United States, no matter how misguided or ill informed. The NRA is supposed to give a press conference tomorrow and as I write this, message boards and talk shows alike are burning with speculation as to what the NRA is going to say, what concessions they stand willing to make to ensure, in their words, that an incident of this magnitude “never happens again.”

Just the thought of concessions by the most well funded Second Amendment machine has sent chills down the spines of gun owners everywhere, who like most Americans, were horrified by what happened in Newtown. More disconcerting however, is the fact that nearly every politician whose campaigns benefited from being vocal about gun rights has either changed his tune or stated outright their support for a renewal of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and other changes such as magazine limits and bans on Internet sales of ammunition.

My advice to the NRA – heed the call towards discussion, but do so in a rational way. Now is not the time for chest thumping and posturing. Now is not the time to make allusions to a physical fight for the Second Amendment that even the most zealous of your membership knows you aren’t about to do. No, now is the time for the adults to come to the table and represent the nearly 4 million members in a light worthy of their membership dollars.

This new approach has to be one of tact and discipline. The first play, not responding immediately to the carnage, was both wise and respectful. You didn’t climb up and push the President or the gun control movement off of their 26 coffin podium and wave the bloody shirt. Good job – now its time to clean house. Step one, Wayne LaPierre needs to dial it down a notch: speak of the history of the Second Amendment and why its still relevant today. Speak of those who are still alive because they had a firearm to equalize themselves against a credible threat. Also, speak to the progress that has been made in extending concealed carry laws to nearly every pocket of the nation – remind the politicians and the President that Americans are lining up every day to attain training and licensure to carry concealed weapons. Tell them, tell the country and the world that in no uncertain terms, will Americans cede their rights to defend themselves.

Next, I urge you as an organization to represent us in a way that doesn’t make us cringe. As much as I am a fan of songs like Wango Tango, Cat Scratch Fever and Stranglehold, I think its time to say goodbye to Ted Nugent. While I admire his passion, the Motor City Madman has a history of making bizarre and downright threatening statements. Who could forget that during the last presidential campaign, the visit that the Secret Service had to pay him for making statements that could easily be construed as a threat to harm the President? Its time to say goodbye to crazy. Crazy only makes the membership look, well, crazy.

While I don’t support bans on military style rifles or high capacity magazines, there is merit in promoting changes to the existing NICS check to include data from the courts when it comes to flagging those who were adjudicated mentally deficient. As a gun owner and a citizen walking the streets, I’d feel better knowing that some effort was being made in keeping any firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, let alone those with high capacity magazines. While we’re on the subject of background checks, private sales should also be subjected to the NICS – as a matter of personal policy, I’ve given up on private transfers of firearms without them. Its better to know who and dare I say what we’re selling to and in this litigious society, it really doesn’t hurt to cover all liabilities. The NRA has always promoted safe firearms handling for the good of the operator as well as those around him. The same philosophy needs to apply to firearms sales – I know this will irritate many gun owners, but it just makes sense to know who you’re selling to and to know that the buyer is in fact safe to take purchase of your firearm.

For the membership of the NRA, GOA and any individual passionate about our right to keep and bear arms, it is time for you too to become active. Engage your communities and demand that your rights are recognized and most importantly, be worthy of exercising those rights. Take classes, learn the laws and store your firearms in a safe manner every time. More important than engaging the community though, we must strive to build communities of like minded people. Introduce yourself to your fellow gun owners at the range, host a Second Amendment information booth at the next gun show that is geared towards educating people as to our history, our rights and most importantly, our responsibilities. If I haven’t said it enough though, engage, engage and engage some more – this is as essential in preserving our liberties as it is networking to form strong, vocal and powerful movements that defend and expand individual rights.

For some, this next part will be hard to read, but if you have family members who are mentally ill, consider what’s at stake when keeping firearms around versus the good of the community. I’m not saying give up your weapons, but if you cannot honestly say that your security protocols will prevent access to that sick family member, either get rid of your weapons or for God’s sake, get that family member the help they need. You have a responsibility to get that person into some form of civil commitment or seriously reconsider owning guns. Lives and our very freedoms are at stake – now is not the time for pride or for denial.

Going forward, I too hope never to hear again of a shooting of this magnitude. I know that the last 10-15 years has seen enormous gains in Second Amendment rights and am committed to maintaining those victories. The eyes of the nation are upon us though, and as gun owners, it is essential that we commit to not only being in the discussion, but that our contributions come from a position of strength and wisdom. With strong, aware comminutes and organizations that are willing to take their leadership role responsibly, there is absolutely no reason we should be in a position to lose freedoms while maintaining the shared goals of safety and security for all.


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