Honey, We Have to Talk About Your Friend Wayne. He’s Really A Problem.

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GUN FORUM SCRENSHOT

Editor’s Note:  If you maintain a well-appointed arsenal of heavy weaponry and have six months worth of food and water stockpiled in your basement in anticipation of the imminent breakdown of society, this letter is not addressed to you.  Please pass it along to that neighbor of yours who likes to go hunting sometimes.  Thank you.

Dear Responsible Gun Owner,

I’ve been seeing it all over the place lately, on Facebook and Twitter and other online forums; a lot of you are feeling persecuted.  I see a lot of you railing against people (like me) who want to talk about gun regulation:  “Why do they hate us?” and “It’s not the gun’s fault, why are they mad at the guns?”  For the record, I’m not “mad at” you personally, or the guns per se.  But we do need to talk.  Honey, it’s about your friend Wayne.  He’s really a problem.

The screenshot above is from a real-live firearms enthusiast’s forum.  Clearly, it even seems to be occurring to Mssrs. Riflemaster3000 and MegaGunDude99 (names changed to protect the innocent) that the NRA and Mr. Wayne LaPierre may actually be more to blame for the anti-gun sentiment in America than actual guns or gun owners themselves.  That’s right: yes, there are lots of people “mad at the guns,” but the truth is, you have a PR problem, responsible gun owner, and its name is the National Rifle Association.

The town of Columbine is a mere half hour from Denver proper.  It was an unfortunate coincidence for the NRA that their convention happened to be scheduled there less than two weeks after the Columbine High School massacre.  After all, it’s not as if they planned their gun party around a school shooting so that their appearance in town could cause the maximum amount of emotional distress to the locals.  But nevertheless, cause distress it did. Representatives from the city of Denver pleaded with the NRA to postpone or move their convention.  They refused.  The gesture would have been appreciated by a local community traumatized by the Columbine shootings, and would have cost the NRA nothing, since the city was even offering to pay for losses incurred as a result of doing so.  And yes, the community’s objection was about the guns, but it also wasn’t:  if the massacres had been perpetrated with golf clubs (which would have been pretty weird, but let’s pretend) and there was a high visibility golf club convention coming to town a scant two weeks later, the city of Denver would have probably asked for the same thing.  But the late Mr. Charleton Heston’s idea of sensitivity was to treat America to a defiant speech about the divisiveness of anti-gun rhetoric that really stopped just short of victim-blaming.  This has been pretty much emblematic of the way this organization has chosen to represent you ever since.

This is because, really, they aren’t representing you.  Controversy, after all, spurs more gun sales.  I wonder who might benefit from that.

In the wake of Sandy Hook, Wayne LaPierre used his press conference to blame just about everyone and everything for gun violence except guns (though amusingly enough, he had the room swept for guns before he came out to speak.  Shouldn’t he have had it swept for people?) … and then after blaming “society” (ie, “us”) for several minutes, followed it up with a call for more guns in schools.  Guards with Uzis!  Teachers and janitors packing heat!  Creative solutions that involve … oh, uh… more guns.  Again, does this particular position benefit you, responsible gun owner?  Unless you are the CEO of a gun company or owner of a local firing range, probably not.

Fast forward to this week.  Their requisite sham-meeting with Vice President Biden was interrupted by… wait for it … another school shooting.  For most people this would represent an epic fail.  For the NRA, it’s just another excuse to get mad on TV about the government coming for your guns.

Meanwhile in Tuscon, AZ, home of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, the city held a completely voluntary gun buyback, collecting 206 guns in total (an impressive number considering Tucson is the Gun Capital of Everywhere).  NRA members stalked the event, trying to outbid the Tucson P.D. for these guns and to their surprise, getting no takers.  Naturally, they then threatened to sue the police department to prevent it from destroying those poor, defenseless guns.  A voluntary gun buyback becoming the precursor to “jack-booted government thugs” marching in missile parades down Congress Street is something that could only happen inside the minds of people who really don’t listen to anyone but themselves.

These are people who think it’s in good taste to throw a “National Gun Appreciation Day” on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death.  (Did we mention that there are apparently almost no black members of the NRA?)  Insular isn’t even the word.

It’s like Wayne LaPierre is constitutionally incapable of showing sensitivity in the wake of a tragedy, or adult behavior in the face of his “principles” being rejected.  And the problem, gun owners, is that many people conflate you, the largely reasonable, responsible folks that you are, many of you who grieved along with the rest of us after Sandy Hook, with these poster boys for insanity, for man’s inhumanity.  You wonder why there’s so much gun hate, and whom the “anti-gun” people are mad at?  That’s a good place to start.

If I may humbly suggest something, you might want to cancel your NRA membership; there are other gun enthusiast organizations, ones that don’t make a habit of embarrassing you at parties.  Most states have other sporting and/or hunting associations, or collectors’ associations if that’s more your thing.  Maybe your membership money doesn’t matter to Mr. LaPierre, but doesn’t that underline the point that just maybe, he’s not really representing your interests?  Controversy might be great for gun sales, but it sure has a way of tarring regular, reasonable people such as yourself.

No, really.  Grammar Nazis, help.  What is the subject of this sentence?

No, really. Grammar Nazis, help. What is the subject of this sentence?

This would be a difficult issue regardless, because we are navigating a problem that is real and trying to do it without interfering with a part of the Constitution that is particularly vaguely-written (and also grammatically strange, has anyone else noticed that?), but every time there’s a gun-related tragedy, NRA leadership gets beset with Tourette’s and come out to rub rock salt in everyone’s wounds on TV.  It’s really not helping.  In fact, it’s probably making some anti-gun people want to come for all your guns.  Just out of spite.

And spite is probably not the best motivator for making public policy.

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16 thoughts on “Honey, We Have to Talk About Your Friend Wayne. He’s Really A Problem.

  1. Not a grammar nazi, but I am an editor. The subject of the sentence is “the right of the people.”

  2. Awesome article. If I had the skills, I would send it to One Million Moms for Gun Control on facebook. 1MM4GC.org

  3. Columbine isn’t actually a town. It’s a High School in unincorporated Jefferson County. You make a good point, but the sloppy errors about basic, easily checked facts makes me wonder what else you’ve gotten wrong.

    • Actually, you are half correct. While the Columbine High School at which the massacre took place was technically located in Littleton, Littleton is right next door to a town called … Columbine. When I say right next door, I mean a mile and a half down the road.

      So, congratulations. You copied and pasted something off of the high school’s wikipedia page to troll me on a virtually meaningless distinction. And in the process of scolding me for my fact-checking, you completed a minor fact-check fail of your own. Well played.

  4. For all responsible gun owners it is important to understand that a key part of the gun grabbers strategy is to attack and vilify the NRA.

    Though the gun grabbers are frequently misinformed and uneducated about firearms and many issues relating to them, they are intelligent enough to recognize that the NRA is the most powerful and well organized of the pro-firearm lobby groups.

    The NRA is a powerful force standing in the way of their plans. It is important that you not let them erode your support of the organisation through their various smear campaigns.

    They are also intelligent enough to recognize that there are different groups within the community of firearms owners. As you can see from this article they are also seeking to cause divisions there. Divide and conquer.

    Do not let them accomplish their goals. Stand firm with all gun owners and 2nd Amendment supporters against the attack on your rights. Support the NRA and contact your elected representatives to make sure they know your position on the subject.

  5. I personally know of African-American, and Native American members of the NRA. Yes the could have (and for respect possibly should have) changed the location after Columbine. I was not far from there when it happened(I knew some there, though at that time I was graduated and working listening to the events unfold)
    However the amendment reads “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
    The militia was NOT the military of the government. Rather the arms of the PEOPLE.

    Therefore, it is either infringed, or it is not. This matter is one of ‘black and white’.

    • We didn’t say “no black NRA members”, we said “very few”. There are some members of color, but it is largely a monochromatic organization. I invite you to read the article linked above, which is written by an African-America NRA member, specifically on the topic of the lack of diversity within the NRA and why he thinks that’s the case.

      The very first portion of the 2nd Amendment, the “well-regulated” militia … what do you suppose that means? Guns aren’t nearly as well-regulated as cars. Do you feel your motoring rights are infringed because you’re required to prove your competence behind the wheel and carry liability insurance? In PA, they actually make you take a physical prior to getting your license.

      And incidentally, one of the stated purposes of the militia, as written by Madison, was to “put down insurrections”, so what do you make of that?

      The right of the people to keep and bear arms is fine, but do mentally ill people get guns? Felons? People on the terror watchlist? Does “arms” mean ALL arms, and if so, then why stop at semi-auto? Why not make Uzis freely available? Why not rocket launchers? Suitcase nukes? Bio-weapons, even? Do you see how fast this conversation can degenerate if we try to call this a black & white issue? It’s not.

  6. Thank you. Well written article. Bright, no need to vilify the NRA; they’ve made villains of themselves. This article presents facts about their words and actions, and the NRA have made themselves the enemy of the American people.

  7. I think gun owners are in ways forced to in many ways back the NRA because it is the big national lobby group for gun owners and realty the only one that any true impact on policy. Further at the best of times gun owners feel like there are large groups of people out to limit there freedom. At these time they get really concerned of those knee jerk reactions. The problem many gun owners have the fact school

    • I’m going to guess you meant to type more there, but I did want to reply to one thing. Yes, there are indeed a significant minority who want to get rid of all guns, everywhere. However, there are also people who would like to take away my right to vote. Go ahead and google “repeal 19th amendment” if you don’t believe me. However, much like the “taking away all our guns” hysteria, you cannot point to a single meaningful legislative effort aimed at doing this. Some things are just a non-starter in America, and it’s time we started having a little more faith in our countrymen and women to find real approaches to a real problem.

      • Thank your for your input.

        Of course we aim to post error-free copy at all times.
        It isn’t always possible to be 100% perfect when you are proofing your own copy on screen so it helps to have multiple sets of eyes in the proofing process.

        We try to correct errors immediately, even on things that are already posted. If we have missed any typos, please let us know and we will correct them.

  8. The veil has been lifted on the Nefarious Rifle Association. My gun owning father rejected them outright in the 1980s. My gun owning husband has not given them $1 in his lifetime. The husband did though, give double the annual NRA membership to 1MM4GC.org, and supports our agenda for SANE gun regulation. My husband is the most responsible of gun owners you will find, is a true blue good guy with a gun, and even HE has a few colorful descriptions for anyone who feels they need an AR-15 for either hunting (he rages at that) or that old chestnut, self-defense. The NRA has self-marginalized to the point of irrelevance, and I for one am gleeful at their imminent demise. It will take time and money, but I tell you the God’s honest truth here: The Sandy Hook Massacre tore my heart out of my chest, it was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I might have remained grief-stricken and despondent for months/years afterward, as I had in prior tragedies. But when Wayne took to the podium on 12/21/12, he did a great service to this country. I found the 1MM group and joined the next day, and am working hard to make change. So in an ironic way I think he singlehandedly galvanized the majority of Americans who want something better for our country. And I thank him for forcing me to get onboard, I really do.

    • He’s not the greatest spokesperson, and he’s been around forever. Fun fact: George H.W. Bush cancelled his membership in the NRA because of Wayne.

      However, I don’t see the NRA fading away anytime soon. They got 250,000 new members in the month following the Sandy Hook murders.

      Agree with you about how Sandy Hook made you feel…I don;t want to say we’ve become desensitized to this kind of thing, but this one…I think it affected a lot of people on an almost personal level. Certainly put me into a tailspin.

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