Time to take back the NRA

To the Editor:

I would like to add some additional comments to Martin Dyckman’s guest column in the Feb. 21 Smoky Mountain News. It is true that the National Rifle Association executives and official “spokespersons” drive the debate on common sense gun regulation.   

However, it is a sad commentary on the quality of leadership of the NRA and the politicians they have “bought” that the most irrational opinions on how to prevent another mass shooting in our schools were made by Wayne LaPierre, NRA president, and other spokespersons for the NRA. 

It should be particularly embarrassing to the 66 percent or so of the rank-and-file members of the NRA that support common sense gun regulations that the most articulate and common sense comments have come from the teenagers who survived the latest incident at Parkland School, and not their organization’s leadership. 

It is clear that the leadership of the NRA speaks for the gun manufacturers and not the majority of sportsmen who make up the rank-and-file membership. It is also clear that our congressional delegation also votes the money and not the wishes of their constituents.

If you believe in the Second Amendment, you believe in sensible gun regulation, just like the Founding Fathers who wrote it did. Here is the full text of Second Amendment as written in our Constitution: “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” (look it up if you think I am lying). Clearly, the authors of this amendment thought that having regulations did not “infringe” on your right to own guns. Even Justice Antonin Scalia, like the Founding Fathers, believed the “right to bear Arms” was not limitless. 

If you are a hunter of any sort, you also believe in sensible gun regulations. All states have rules that regulate hunting in the interest of public safety, safety for those hunting and for sustainable game numbers so future generations have something to hunt. All states have rules that regulate:

• The time of year, the time of day, the places you can hunt and the daily limit you can have in your possession and the type of license you must have.

• The type of weapon you can use to hunt various game, the number of rounds in the gun and the type of bullets you can use-no military type weapons and exploding bullets.

• How you can use dogs in the hunt, what type “call” can be used to lure game and what if any type of “baiting” can be done.

If you duck hunt for example, you can only use a shotgun with a limit of three shells in the chamber at a time, the pellets in the shell have to be non-toxic and there is a daily limit of six birds in specific combinations. Extended magazines or exploding bullets are not permitted for any game. Has anyone come to take your gun because of these rules?

My question for NRA sportsmen is why are you willing to follow these regulations for things like ducks and deer but you are not willing to give our children the same kinds of protective regulations? Why does LaPierre freak out if anyone mentions regulations on assault style weapons as a violation of the Second Amendment rights but does not say a word about hunting regulations infringing on your Second Amendment rights? 

I know why LaPierre does it. He speaks only for the gun manufacturers’ money, but uses your membership to claim he is speaking for all NRA members. He is usurping your votes to leverage power for the gun makers while turning your NRA organization into a fringe element.

If you are a member of the 66 percent of rank- and-file members supporting common sense gun regulation to protect our children and public safety in general, there are three things you need to do right now to support the latest teenage victims’ call to action.

First, you need to begin today to organize the 66 percent to take back your organization from the executives owned by the gun manufacturers.  Vote anyone supporting manufacturers out of office and elect executives that will take the NRA back to its original mission of promoting responsible gun ownership, gun safety for all, education and responsible shooting sports, many of which are Olympic events. 

Sixty-six percent is a two-thirds majority of the membership, which should be enough to vote the current executives out but you need to speak out and get actively involve. How many more children have to die to move you to action?

Second, you need to be calling your state and federal senators and representatives at least weekly demanding they vote for common sense gun regulations to give your children and grandchildren at least as much protection as ducks and deer. Remind them that you are part of the 66 percent of rank-and-file NRA members who want common sense gun regulations and will only vote for people that support those measures. Tell them to quit going for the money and do their jobs of representing the will of their constituents. Show up at town halls and visit their local offices and tell them the same thing.

Third, you need to follow the voting record of both your state and federal representatives in government. We have known at least since Columbine that our representatives talk a lot and offers prayers and sympathy but they only vote the money. Follow how your representatives vote and ignore what they say. It is how they vote that gets action. All votes have to be recorded and are public record. You can look them up the Senate and House websites. Do the work to be informed about their actions not their newsletters and photo ops and promise to hold them accountable in future elections. Vote your conscience, not your fear, for the safety of all our children. Most of all vote! It is the most powerful thing you can do to protect our children.

Jane Harrison

Haywood County resident and former social studies teacher

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