I was a member of the National Rifle Association for more than 50 years. In 2012, I decided not to renew my membership.
My NRA was all about marksmanship, safety and responsibly. But the NRA today is off the rails. It’s being irresponsible, and it has been for years. NRA leaders should be sponsoring responsible gun laws instead of opposing them, in my opinion.
In 2006 my daughter was one of the victims in the shooting at the Jewish Federation in Seattle, where a shooter killed one and inured five. My daughter survived, barely. After she recovered, she wanted to put the tragedy behind her, but she found that it was too life-changing. She started telling her story, and she began advocating for more effective gun-control laws in Washington.
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I’ve always enjoyed shooting sports. As a Boy Scout and an Explorer Scout, I joined the NRA in high school. I then spent 20 years in the Navy, where I qualified as an expert in both rifles and pistols. I still own guns: four modern firearms and two old-fashioned pistols that are more than 100 years old.
But I strongly believe that being a responsible gun owner means supporting sensible laws to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people. This belief was cemented by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. The shooting in Oregon last week was another tragic reminder.
I feel that four things can help prevent such tragedies in the future. Requiring background checks on the state and federal level is the sensible first step. In addition, there should be penalties for officials of city, state and county governments who fail to enter people’s names in the database when they’re judged to be mentally ill, or a danger to themselves or others, or have convictions that would make them no longer eligible to own firearms.
Another safety precaution would be to make sure that when a protection order is issued by a judge, that person’s guns are confiscated until the order is lifted. Finally, no one needs high-capacity magazines, firearms capable of holding more than 10 rounds, for target shooting, hunting for personal protection. Not only should they not be sold, but their possession should also be illegal.
Many NRA members would agree that we need more common-sense gun laws: A 2013 survey found that about 75% of members support stronger restrictions on guns. The NRA leaders should listen to the members and do more to make sure that gun ownership goes hand-in-hand with responsibility and safety.
Gun-rights advocates often make the argument: “Guns don’t kill people; people do.” But the reality is: People with guns kill people. And there’s a lot more we can do to stop them.