Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Letter to a Young NRA Member

(the below e-mail was sent to a gentleman who happens to be a member of the NRA who wrote to me to protest my characterization of the NRA in a piece I wrote, "Another Poster Child for the NRA," which appeared on this blog, and elsewhere, earlier this week...)

Dear Stu,

Thank you for your thoughtful note. I think my article was misunderstood entirely. I never intended to attack the NRA, or its members; that would be like attacking AAA because someone got killed by a drunk driver. To the contrary, I attacked any attempt to legitimize the culture of violence, and try to make assault rifles respectable.

As today's shooting by a 14 year old in a Cleveland school clearly demonstrates, access to handguns is flat out too widespread. After all, the officer who went bezerk in Wisconsin, on Sunday, and shot 7 people was 20 years old, not much older than the Cleveland teenager. As a society, and as human beings (whether members of the NRA or the AARP), we need to think about what message we're sending to our young people by mystifying guns, and fanning the flames of violence both here and in Iraq.

The shooting of those two Christian Iraqi women by western convoys, near Baghdad, yesterday was reprehensible. We are role models not just to our children, but for the whole world. I'd rather teach my son how to use a dictionary than a gun, but I respect your mother's decision. She obviously raised a man she can be proud of. Alas, you are increasingly in the minority. The incidence of accidental shootings, in homes with guns, is far greater than in homes where there are no guns, obviously. Phil Specter's lady friend would still be alive if they played with a toy gun instead of a real one.

We all make choices. All of our choices have voices. The victims of drive-by shootings, inner city violence, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now Cleveland all cry out for greater regulation of assault weapons. John Lennon would, too. Ironically, he wrote the lyrics: "Happiness is a warm gun," and only a few years later, his life was cut short by a firearm. As another songwriter has said: "how many more will it take till we know that too many people have died?" The answer isn't blowing in the wind; it's at our front door; keep assault weapons out of the hands of as many Americans as possible. Our children will be grateful for this, and the rest of the world will be, too.