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Posted by on Jul 23, 2012 in Guest Contributor | 16 comments

If I Were The NRA, This Is What I’d Say.

Like many Americans, I grew up with guns. My father was an avid hunter, and from a very young age he taught my older brother and myself the responsibility that comes with handling a weapon. Everything you did with the gun – from carrying it to cleaning it to firing it – was to be done safely. My dad (and later my brother) were members of the NRA. We got the magazine every month, and while there were a few articles about gun rights, most of it was about hunting, sport shooting, and safety. That was decades ago, though, and while I don’t know yet how the NRA has or will respond to the Colorado massacre, here is how I (in the spirit of the organization I once knew) would respond:

“Following the recent terrible events in Aurora, Colorado, the name of our organization has come up many times already. Some people wish to demonize us or assign blame, and some simply want to hear what we have to say about the tragedy. This, then, is what we have to say. We agree with the President and other commentators that now is not the time to politicize this incident. In fact there will never be a proper time to politicize such an unspeakable act. Now is also not the time to debate gun laws. This might seem surprising coming from an organization such as ours, but we feel that now is the time to mourn the dead, tend to the wounded, and reflect upon this terrible tragedy.

In time, the debate over gun laws will no doubt resume, and you can be certain that we will vigorously defend the rights of law-abiding American citizens to be safe and responsible gun owners. In the meantime, we hope that people will reflect upon what it means to be safe and responsible gun owners. Firearms should be used for hunting, sport shooting, as collectible items or decoration, and – as an absolute last resort – for self defense. Safe and responsible gun owners never point a firearm in the direction of another human being. Safe and responsible gun owners do not discharge firearms in such a way that endangers the safety of other citizens, especially in public places. No safe and responsible gun owner would use or allow their firearm to be used in the commission of even the smallest crime. Safe and responsible gun owners comply with laws and law enforcement, and should whenever possible advocate for the safe and responsible use of firearms by others.

When sufficient time has passed, and the debate over the role of guns in our society begins again, we will strive to advocate all the more emphatically for the safe, responsible, and lawful use of firearms by responsible, law-abiding citizens. We will redouble our efforts to teach gun safety, responsible handling of firearms, and the potential dangers that come with the ownership of a weapon. We will still defend the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but will also remind Americans that with the right to keep and bear arms comes a solemn responsibility to use them in a safe and legal manner.”

That is what I would say if I were the NRA. I doubt the official response from that organization will bear any resemblance to what I’ve written, but I can hope.

*The image is where the author grew up.