Why a 53-Year-Old Big-City Lawyer Who Has Never Shot a Gun Joined the NRA
I am a 53-year-old lawyer who lives in a trendy neighborhood in a large diverse city with my wife and three kids. I have never owned a gun. In fact, even though I grew up in Louisiana ("Sportsman's Paradise"), I have never even pulled the trigger of any weapon except a BB gun.
Yet, last week, I became a proud member of the NRA for the first time. I did so because the anti-gun hysteria that I've witnessed is dangerous, alarming, and ignores the facts. I've joined the NRA to stand up for them when they are viciously attacked, since the organization is a convenient scapegoat, not a cause of what happened in Florida.
I’m fed up. Here’s what I have discovered.
During the 1970s there were years between school shootings. Today the average is around five school shootings a year. In the early 1980s, violent video games first hit the streets (I remember -- I was a teenager in the early 80s), and since then school mass shootings have steadily increased. (The Columbine shooters reportedly loved “Doom.”) Our entertainment culture – movies and TV -- also are increasingly violent. I believe it is hypocritical that Hollywood hates guns in the hands of law abiding citizens, but glamorizes and profits from gun violence in their productions.
Many school shooters (and other mass shooters) have mental health issues, a point that is generally unaddressed in any of the demands of gun control advocates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported as many as 20% of children aged three to 17 have, in any given year, have a mental or emotional illness. The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights reports that the percentage of prison inmates with serious mental illness rose from less than 1% in 1880 to 21% in 2005. Deinstitutionalization swept health care starting in the 1960s, meaning the mentally ill now live among us. Elliot Rodger, who killed six and wounded 13 during a 2014 killing spree near a California college, had legally purchased three guns and passed a federal background check. He also met several other requirements in a state with among the toughest gun control laws in the country. Yet California has some of the weakest laws in the country when it comes to treating and committing mentally ill persons. As such, despite being reported to a county mental health agency and police for posting alarming videos on YouTube, Rodger was not committed. So in his case, it wasn't the gun laws, it was the lack of common sense mental commitment laws, that led to tragedy.
Additionally, shooters are being raised in a violent society. For example, taxpayer-funded abortions on demand are routine. Just two months ago, the U.S. Senate blocked a bill that would have banned most abortions (except for rape, incest, and the life of the mother) after 20 weeks. In many western European countries, abortion is only allowed in the first 12-13 weeks of pregnancy. When a society is cavalier about killing fetuses, how much does it really care about its young?
The recent shooting in Florida may have been prevented but for the failures on the part of the FBI and the Broward County Sheriff’s office. The police were called to the school shooter’s home over 40 times and did nothing. In the six years before the shooting, there were at least 30 reports of domestic violence and troublesome behavior against the shooter. A deputy sheriff assigned to the school, and possibly others, waited outside during the shooting. Further, the school district and local police department may have been sensitive to Obama-era policies concerned about disparate impact (too many minority youths) in school suspensions and juvenile arrests. As such, school officials and local police were likely more reluctant to detain Cruz or disarm him, due to the suggested policies to be more lenient in general towards juvenile offenders.
I have found that instead of focusing on these social issues and law enforcement breakdowns, we’ve seen unbridled hatred and rage directed toward responsible gun owners. I’ve seen this personally by my friends on the Left. The simple facts are these: overall gun violence is down markedly over the last 20 years, even as more guns are in circulation and the Supreme Court has given greater backing to individual rights to own a firearm. For example, New York City, through innovative policing tactics, has seen murders drop from 2200 in 1990 to below 300 last year, an 85% drop. On the other hand, cities with tight gun control laws, like Chicago (where I live), St. Louis and Baltimore, have some of the worst gun violence. What else do these cities have in common? Controversial but rare shootings or killings by police that have created anti-police sentiment. As a result, police are lying low, or "fetal," as Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel put it.
It seems to me, however, that the Left is not interested in sensible changes to existing gun laws, such as strengthening background checks, employing more armed security at schools, and better identification and separation of troubled youths. Rather, the Left wants to destroy the NRA and repeal the Second Amendment, as articulated recently by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
The fact is that the NRA is an organization the promotes responsible gun ownership and which, to the best of my knowledge has never produced a mass shooter. NRA members have guns for personal protection and/or recreation. The NRA has always supported vigorous prosecution of anyone caught using a gun in a criminal act. This is in contrast to big city leftist politicians such as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle or State Attorney Kim Foxx, who think juveniles should be released without bail, and should not get a criminal record and face charges for many criminal offenses.
While I fully support reasonable safety measures that comport with the Constitution, tragic school shootings will, unfortunately, continue to occur unless such measures are paired with attempts to address societal issues. I look forward to advocating on behalf of the NRA to address these issues and make our schools safer.