This Gun Owner Says NRA Is Dead Wrong

This Gun Owner Says NRA Is Dead Wrong

As a law-abiding citizen and a responsible gun owner, I have found the National Rifle Association (NRA) to be in conflict with my own views.

So much so that many years ago I refused to renew my membership with them. And good thing too because their “waiting out of respect” press conference today was not only a joke but disingenuous. In short, the NRA is dead wrong!

Look, don’t think for a moment I don’t believe in my Constitutional Right to own a gun or protect myself or family. However the national conversation caused by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School demands that all citizens find a way to agree on certain hot button issues surrounding that right. And the way I see it – it is about time people agree that Assault Weapons have no place in the hands of a private citizen.

Look, I understand the gun collectors point of view about the AR-15 being the epitome of a fine weapon for its ease of use, the fact it is lightweight and has a wide array of accessories and is an exceptional collectors item. But the bottom line is that this is still a lethal killing machine and is best suited for members of the military and/or police para-military units.

Yet, the NRA refuses to engage that topic and instead shifted their conversation to burdening every single school in the nation with armed guards? Seems to me that that solution is damn near logistically impossible even if teachers and staff were to agree on locking-up a cache of weapons as a means of first response.

Although I suppose the fees the NRA and its affiliates could rake in to certify all those people working in schools would be great for their financial bottom line, I still seriously doubt that in the event of another Sandy Hook tragedy that even a trained educator staff would be mentally up to the task given the stresses associated with such an act.

Armed volunteers, meanwhile, might be doable in many communities but not everywhere. Besides the last thing children need is seeing what would amount to a wall of armed guards surrounding their playgrounds and wondering when and if to duck when bullets start flying in every direction.

So the way I see it, all the NRA basically said today was that they are still unwilling to engage the subject of reasonable gun laws. As usual.

They would rather place the blame elsewhere and while I agree that popular graphic video games like Call of Duty have gone “way, way over the top” and that Hollywood and the television media are equally responsible and culpable for glorifying violence and the degradation of society norms – they certainly are not entirely to blame either.

Society in general has degraded. Parents, it seems, take little or no responsibility. Even worse is when they enable their spoiled darling children such as the parents of one of my own sons’ friends who see absolutely no problem in letting their kid go to midnight game releases on a school night for the latest copy of Call of Duty and then let him play it all night when he gets back – and are you read for this – they then call him in sick to school the next morning.

Adding to that irresponsibility is when you see the kid’s Facebook Page and he is praising the graphics and realism of the new game while and one of the parents comments “glad you like it – you really deserved it.” Talk about fu&$ed up! Then, of course, there are the parents who pay absolutely no attention to their children because its either too hard, they are too overwhelmed or are just basically just consumed with their own “me-me” lives.

And then we wonder why there are so many kids who are either on anti-psychotic drugs and eventually go postal or show a general lack of responsibility or respect towards society?

However, getting back to the subject of reasonable gun laws: I see no problem with fair and reasonable laws governing our right to bear arms; i.e. submitting to mandated background checks prior to the purchase of a firearm, the elimination of straw sales and/or taking assault weapons and high capacity clips out of the mainstream.

It just makes perfect sense to me.

Besides, I feel relatively secure that our right to bear arms won’t be severely diminished since the US Supreme Court has already upheld that right. Quite frankly as it stands now I don’t feel as if I am being encumbered or burdened in any way by the tougher than most set of rules that I am already following here in Illinois. The way I see it what I am asked to do legally in Illinois right now are more than fair and allow me to be responsible.

However, I also believe in what Charlton Heston once said – “from my cold dead hands.” And should there be any overt or over the top attempts by the State of Illinois or Federal Government to take away my constitutional rights, then that is something that I simply would tolerate or accept. And neither should anyone else if they are so inclined about protecting their constitutional rights.

There are just too many bad people out there who don’t give a damn about any sort of laws or gun restrictions. And we already know that no matter what the law says they will always have access to firearms and aren’t afraid to use them. As such law-abiding citizens deserve to have a level playing field because bad people should have to think twice about whether or not the person they are about to maim or rob is protecting themselves or not.

But at the same token I fully understand why some people would want absolutely nothing to do with a firearm in their house. And I am very mindful and respectful of their views. But please don’t be anything but the same when it comes to my views either. Like I said, I already follow every law and requirement demanded of me by authorities.

However, if you really want something to think about – everyone in Illinois should be concerned how the Illinois State Police issues Firearm Owners Identification Cards (FOID). They are forced to rubber-stamp applications because they are severely undermanned and have been underfunded by a corrupt and thieving State Legislature for decades. Simply put they cannot do their jobs properly and that leads to people who shouldn’t be getting FOID’s getting the first essential vehicle required to legally purchase a gun or ammunition.

And something else to think about is that one of the questions asked on the FOID Application is if the person has had any history of mental illness. Naturally this is done on an honor system and as such I am sure that many who have had issues won’t disclose that fact despite theĀ  perjury warning at the bottom of the form. So unless the State Police have an up to date database to cross-reference against we have another problem.

Yes there are medical privacy laws involved here and we must be mindful of that but even medical professionals are required by law to report any threats to society despite their reluctance to do so and/or their Hippocratic oaths. People who have a history of mental illness simply should not qualify for a FOID let alone purchase and/or possess a firearm because they not only do they pose a substantial threat to society but to themselves as well.

So there is a lot to think about here and the time has come to engage the issues in a sensible and rational way. And even though I anticipate a backlash of nasty comments from either side of this debate – I felt it necessary to speak my mind on why I think the NRA was dead wrong today.

And while the world is in desperate need of guardian angels I don’t believe that that should include innocent children.

This madness has to stop!


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  • I'm sorry, but I must disagree.

    Just because something makes sense to you does not mean it can pass muster with the Constitution.

    I have been to parts of this earth where a real automatic weapon is a clothing accessory, and yet there are no mass school killings. Why is that? Because of gun control?

    I don't plug my own stuff on other peoples blogs, but you should read this. Then tell me to go to hell, or whatever.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Richard I read both your pieces and think they are blunt and brutally honest. And I say that in a good way and as such there is no reason for me to tell you to go anywhere. In fact I agree with what you are saying but I a little confused as to what you are disagreeing with me about? Constitutional muster? I am not suggesting giving up our constitutional right to bear arms, my only point is that I don't think we need AR15's in the hands of the average citizen. They are military grade weapons and as a vet know the damage they can do. Let's see, I also pointed out that we needed to look at the Mental Health aspect and that we need better enforcement of the laws already on the books.

    So exactly what part of the post are you disagreeing with? Are you suggesting that AR15's are perfectly acceptable since I don't get the impression you are anti-gun? Or are you saying the law is all-encompassing? I mean we aren't allowed to own hand grenades or Howitzers right? So wouldn't a military grade semi-automatic fall into a non-civilian category without denying the right to own handguns, rifles or shotguns?

    As for the AR15, I would be more inclined to carry a concealed weapon as a deterrent rather than strapping a military grade semi-automatic over my shoulder but that's just me.

    Look, like you, I used to travel the states extensively and wound up in places like Paterson, NJ or Compton, East LA and other notorious places in Southern Cal where a concealed weapon certainly would have leveled the playing field significantly considering the "daylight crime" in those places. But as we know even though they may have passed concealed carry laws - they have made it damn near impossible to get a permit, especially in NY/NJ.

    So I don't know Richard, am I missing something here as many of your points seem to align with my points although not quite as elegantly. But I do believe that we have a societal problem and there are multiple factors; i.e. parenting or the lack thereof, violent and realistic gaming, and glorification of violence in the media among others.

    Anyway its late and maybe I am missing your point - how about clarifying especially the constitutional part.

    p.s. thanks for sharing your two posts I found them engaging and thought provoking. Well done.

  • As a companion piece:

  • I'm not going there, but:

    1. It was "real considerate" of the NRA to wait a week before holding a press conference to infuriate most of the rest of the country. At least it assured that it got top media attention, but it also basically exposed them as being what you said.

    2. I'm sure Richard's or anyone else's deer or wild turkey tastes better with 30 bullets in it. As I understand the current Second Amendment jurisprudence, a gun is allowed for protecting your home and according to the Second Circuit, yourself on the street.You don't need a rifle shooting 30 rounds a second for that, and if "original intent" governs, the well regulated militias used muskets.

  • In reply to jack:

    The NRA, I thought, were insincere yesterday. Wayne LaPierre is a snaky weasel so far as I am concerned.

    As for Richard, I enjoyed reading his two posts and find him very intelligent but to tell you the truth I am confused to exactly what he is disagreeing with me about. After all I am not advocating banning guns nor would I stand for that. And besides, the US Supreme Court has been clear on the issue. I just think some of us gun owners can see the logic in banning assault weapons and don't buy the argument they are for hunting. No sane hunter would use it for fear he would contaminate the meat.

    Look we can't buy hand grenades or Howitzers so my point is we need to start somewhere in this discussion and must be willing to give something up in return for other initiatives involving the other factors I spelled out.

    I try really hard to respect everyone's opinion and value any input I get here - even Richard's. I am sure that there is genuine fear out there that if we give up this or that, that eventually we will be denied all our rights. And we know how hard Illinois has tried to do that against their citizens. So really I get both sides but the NRA are a microcosm of the dysfunctional and stonewalling GOP that has kept Washington in constant gridlock.

    I don't know maybe I am just the last living Moderate in the United States and am out of lockstep. But I am tired of it.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    This comment came in from someone who had a hard time getting into the system and I am re-posting for those who care to think a little deeper:

    Hi Michael,

    I've been trying to get into your Chicago Political Commentary blog but ChicagoNow says it knows me but won't let me in. Ah cyberspace.

    Your NRA post is a rational, common sense, observation on the "gun problem." I have a feeling that Wayne LaPierre doesn't really give a crap about gun ownership, gun zealotry, etc. He is a long-time lobbyist and he recognizes a good con with potential for a very good living. But, like guys who sell that old-time religion, there are millions who will follow him without question.

    The "gun problem" is more than assault rifles and crazy people who might use them for mass shootings. Most people who shoot other people are not crazies--they are people who have access to a gun when they feel a need to shoot a family member, a neighbor, a friend, a drinking buddy, an ex-wife or husband. These kinds of gun killings make up the great majority of gun killings in this country--and they are usually carried out with handguns or shotguns. The weapon used is very often a gun kept in the house for "protection".

    Our love affair with guns, and dependence on guns to resolve problems, goes way, way back. Tocqueville observed it and called it to the reader's attention as something uniquely American. The authors of "The Federalist Papers" knew about it, linked it with ultra-individualism, and thought it might derail movement toward a Constitution.

    To take the NRA line is to say that "guns don't kill people, people kill people", "guns save lives" and other bromides produced by the NRA public relations machine. The NRA simply dismisses the data showing that the U.S. has by orders of magnitude the highest incidence of civilian death by gunfire of any industrialized nation in the world. These data simply show that easy access to guns increases risk for gunshot homicide.

    While I doubt the value of any move to make it harder to buy an assault rifle (there are already millions in the possession of gun owners), I would believe that no civilian should possess these weapons. Their only purpose is to kill people. In Vietnam the Medical Corps docs encountered for the first time the horrific wounds inflicted by a round from a gun with high muzzle velocity--the AK-47. A wound in an arm or leg could result in loss of the limb. A body wound could turn nerve, blood vessel and other tissue to mush, and induce biological shock that in itself could be fatal.

    Today the urban hospital emergency room is accustomed to seeing high-velocity wounds and do better in treating them than the docs who saw then the Vietnam for the first time. But the wounds are still horrific and they still carry high risk for death or permanent incapacity. Why is it necessary for a civilian to be able to inflict such wounds on other people?

    Thanks for your observations.

    Jim Breeling

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    Fully agree with you. We should not only stay away from this morally bankrupt group, we have a resposibility to form a better one. We should start an association of responsible gun owners to advocate both for rights and responsibility. Actually that is not a bad name for it A.R.G.O. As a parent, proud american and a gun owner i am game to help start one. Who is with me?

  • In reply to Scott Ward:

    I am with you Scott. Thanks for commenting.

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  • In reply to Aaron Womack:

    Aaron thanks for your comments and let me say this: first - you don't need the all-caps anger because your views will always be respected here nor will you ever be censored. Like you I have been a gun advocate pretty much my whole life and the same arguments you lay out are the same ones I often cite. Yes Guns don't kill - people kill. And yes it doesn't take an assault weapon to be any deadlier than say a .22. I also understand the resistance surrounding "giving back a right" but my feeling is that I am confidant that the US Supreme Court has already reaffirmed the position and that there will be no "wholesale changes made." But I understand the fear that if you give it away - what's next? Especially among the Big City mayors who blame guns for their own inability to properly police their streets. So in short I do not need mind changing as I already agree with pretty much what you say. But here is the point I was also trying to make the NRA and Wayne LaPierre aren't really offering a doable solution and he knows it. For LaPierre this is just his job not a conviction. Sure he supports the military and citizen rights to carry but I also believe what he really likes is all the other money being made off the gun manufacturers. Not everything is as it seems with lobby groups.

    As for the criminals - yes - yes - yes. I understand the rationale here. But do we really need high-capacity assault weapons in the hands of average citizens? Hardly. And based on your argument a handgun would suffice in battling back someone trying to rob or hurt you. Unless of course the person handling the weapon doesn't know how to shoot the damn thing and in that case that's probably the person you don't want protecting you. Look I was very clear I am a gun right advocate. Take it anyway you want, but the national discussion demands we talk about assault weapons after those little children were cut down for no reason at all. Yes there are other factors I pointed out that contribute to this nonsense but we need to also look at things from outside the box sometimes to arrive at a solution.

    Again thanks for your comments, they are appreciated and they are just as valued as all the others are.

  • In reply to Aaron Womack:

    I suppose that Adam Lanza became a criminal only when he stole his mother's guns. That didn't stop him or her from buying the magazines.

    The "fast cars and swimming pools" are also an NRA red herring. Someone else posted on Yahoo "bars." However, the posters after me couldn't comprehend my point that bartenders are subject to dram shop liability and laws telling them not to overserve. The "fast cars" are now required to have all sorts of safety equipment. There was a story a couple of days ago about a bus driver blanking out an running into 20 parked cars. I suppose that we should bar buses, too, according to the Yahoos.

    Although I said on Aquinas that I don't see how future legislation would get the current armament off the street, it is clear that no one needs to put 30 bullets into even a bear. And it is insane to assume that every elementary school needs an armed guard.

  • In reply to jack:

    Not sure when or where Adam Lanza's problems began but from what I've read - he had some issues for quite awhile. I found disturbing was the conversation the mother had with someone regarding "her losing the boy" because he was more and more withdrawn. But I have been wondering whether or not the parents even attepted to get him the help prior to age of consent? Just a tragedy all the way around. Even the mother being villified for being a gun owner was very unfair at the onset because news people implied that she left the weapons lying around in the open, etc.etc. etc. - problem is no one knows what transpired. For all we know she had them safely locked up and he still managed to gain access before shooting her.

    As for banning everything that can be construed as being a weapon, well I guess that's what it will take to shut up the knuckleheads of the world. And yes my friend, there are too many armanents on the street already for any any effective legislation. But I kind of wanted to make more a point of the fact that we don't need assualt weapons in society, after all 30 slugs into a deer or bear isn't what a hunter strives for and I think we know that. Whatever the rationale - what we do need though is some sort of serious discussion as to what constitutes the right to bear arms. I mean we cannot go out and buy hand grenades or Howitizers right? I just think there has to be a give and take between the differing viewpoints.

    Last but not least - yeah I think there is a measure of insanity to suggest every school needs an armed guard - besides I don't believe it is even logistically possible. However it could be a part of the solution in some areas. I don't know it just seems the world is getting wackier and wackier and no one wants to accept responsibility for anything. Just makes me sad because I once really believed that we humans were more good than evil - I don't believe that anymore though.

    Oh yeah - your comment on fast cars and swimming pools / a bartender's liability is absolutely spot on. Why people cannot comprehend it probably has a lot to do with them not wanting to understand it. It seems that far too many people play that ignorance game too, but I guess that's all about accepting responsibilty too.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    About all I know about Lanza's background is from Nightline. Of course, as the days went by, that went from, essentially his aunt in Crystal Lake and the bartenders in Connecticut saying the usual "there was nothing to suspect this" to the "he was withdrawn, he had to be home schooled, his mother had a lot of trouble, the father moved to N.J." etc. Since the original story that his mother was a teaching assistant was "shot down," I haven't heard any explanation what he had against the school. At least there was some connection between "The Joker" and the Batman movie in Aurora. Colo., and apparently he was getting some psychological counseling at college, before he concocted his plot.

    I would also stress a certain amount of premeditation, as the Aurora one booby trapped his apartment, and Lanza allegedly had his brother's I.D..

  • In reply to jack:

    Pretty much the same here, although I get Time and they indicated that when he was in school he would clutch his bag while trying to avoid any and all contact by sliding against the hallway lockers. Obviously he had a problem socializing and I suppose that prompted the home schooling. Perhaps his earlier troubles in school was the motivation as he was never able to really assimilate? But whatever the ultimate trigger for his psychological break is much harder to grasp - but things like that don't just happen without setting it off. I also haven't heard what his actual relationship was with his mother except for the increased withdrawal I alluded to previously.

    And when we think it about - the mother I believe had a fascination with gun collecting as well as going to the range which I would assume included her children at some point. I mean he definitely knew how to use the weapons in a proficient manner.

    I doubt if we will ever know though Jack but I can agree that there was some premeditation. How long his condition had been building or if there had been a concerted effort by both or one parent to seek help just prior to the incident is something that hopefully gets answered by the father yet. Maybe then we can finally understand what was going on in his mind.

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    I agree with you up to a point & then at the issue of mental illness, I completely & respectfully disagree. Here is why. You said that anyone with a history of mental illness should not be allowed this right. Who is to say the doctors diagnosis was even correct? Or that doctors don't over diagnose? I know, from having worked at a doctors office, that doctors receive perks from pharmaceutical companies for writing more prescriptions! Not only that, is it not wrong to discriminate against a certain group of people anymore? Who's to say what mental illness even is, where that cut off point is, etc... I think you could say that the entire United States as a whole is mentally ill! I'm sure there are doctors who could give each & every single one of us a named disorder. So, where would it stop? That is simply opening a door to a possibility of everyone losing this right. In addition, I believe that there are people that have been classified as "mentally ill" who are very vulnerable to being taken advantage of by others in society. Those individuals need the ability to exercise this right, maybe even more so than someone who isn't in that classification. So, its just tough luck for them? They shouldn't have the right to defend themselves just as you do? What makes you so special? Your life is no more valuable than anyone else's. You can not start to take rights away from people based on discrimination. Period. You can't punish a whole group of people for a few bad seeds. Otherwise, the government could take any rights from anyone for just about any reason. What if they suddenly realized that the suicide rate of white middle aged men has risen dramatically in the past few years, which is fact, & decided to take your gun rights away as well!?

  • In reply to Melissa Thornton:

    You bring up some very good points Melissa and I agree one must be very very careful where that line is drawn on mental illness. Especially in this day and age when new ailments are created to satisfy bad behavior; i.e. how many kids are classified ADHD for instance? So yes I see what you are saying. But there are those that are criminally insane and often have a long history to support it. Those are, more or less, the people I speak of and not some quota driven percentage of the population to support drug sales or increased prescription output.

    It is without a doubt, though, a slippery slope as you say - where do we draw the line? Still there are those with a properly confirmed and diagnosed mental illness and those people probably need another layer of scrutiny to ensure they are not a danger to society or themselves.

    But I agree we shouldn't take lightly the denial of one's rights. No easy answer here either but I can tell you when I see someone walking down the street with an obvious affliction - well I wonder If I want to see them carrying a gun. Then again a hammer in their hand can be just as dangerous.

    In short - I hear you and don't take lightly any extreme act involving our rights. That's not to say though that there aren't situations where that would be the right thing to do?

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