My comment was directed at your response when you got to the handgun stage. My bad for clarity.

As a long-time member of the NRA (I first joined to take a hunter safety course in 1971), I can positively state that your characterization of the organization is way wide of the truth.

As is true of any group or association, there will be actions with which I disagree. Ted Nugent, for one, the selection of Oliver North as the titular president for another. However, I do agree with the organization’s efforts to promote safe gun handling practices, marksmanship and competition. The NRA has made numerous instructional videos on topics such as discussing guns with children and the importance of repetition; the importance of safe gun storage and gun handling; proper range etiquette and even recommended ages for a first introduction to firearms. Yet none of those seem to get any coverage.

I am a long-time supporter of the NRA Foundation, the arm of the NRA that awards grants to training programs. The NRA Foundation is rigidly apolitical, as required by federal law, and does not act as an advocate of anything but training and marksmanship. I know from personal experience that foundation volunteers won’t even discuss gun politics when they are on the clock.

It was the NRA Foundation that awarded the JROTC program at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School $10,000 to refurbish and equip an air rifle range. Nikolas Cruz was a member of the JROTC, which was the sum total of his connection with the NRA.

I also support the NRA’s position on firearms legislation. I am not opposed to all gun regulation and I do comply with the myriad of federal, state and even local restrictions, but I oppose legislation that restricts me while not producing a net positive impact on public safety. This means laws that have already proven ineffective, such as background checks, assault weapons bans and restrictions on things like magazine capacity.

For example, I would not oppose laws requiring safety training for those that chose to own firearms. I also would not oppose stronger parental responsibility laws for safe storage. I believe they would help reduce the number of deaths and injuries from accidental or unintentional firearm discharges. While the rate of injuries and deaths among children 1–17 has fallen nearly 27% since 2001, it has risen 3.5% among adults. Observation of just two basic rules, keep your finger off the trigger and every gun is loaded, could save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of emergency room visits every year.

More people died from gun accidents in 2017 than died in mass shootings.

Former President Obama (for whom I voted twice) once said that if background checks could save a single life, they would be worth it. There is no evidence that they ever have, but that’s not the point. Requirements for safety training, even in states that don’t require permits to carry, could save more lives. Yet neither President Obama nor a single gun control advocate seems to make any real effort to promote gun safety.

Ironically, when the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Project ChildSafe received a $2.4 million Department of Justice grant, many outlets condemned the grant and called for it to be withdrawn. Project ChildSafe distributes gun safety kits, including a gun lock, through more than 15,000 U.S. law enforcement agencies and the grant was to allow the program to be expanded. Yet not a single one of the articles I read ever mentioned that. The notice of the grant award said specifically what it was for and the press announcements of the grant also specified its use.

For those that raise the self-defense issue, the rule of thumb among responsible gun owners is simple. Only one gun should be loaded: the one you are carrying. Every other gun should be unloaded and secured separate from ammunition. The loaded gun should be under your immediate control at all times. It’s a fairly straightforward rule, after all, if you need a gun for self-defense, a gun kept somewhere else doesn’t do you much good. On the other hand, a gun kept for self-defense anywhere else should be kept in something like a biometric safe.

My comments really concerned the public perception of the NRA and the perception that you shared. It’s easy to demonize something about which you really know very little or nothing but a bit harder to be credible while doing so. It’s not the chorus you have to persuade; it’s the unconverted.

Note: I do respect your opinions, even if I poke fun at them. I have known some people that harbor similarly uncomplimentary views of your side and they are equally ill-informed.

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of onewordtexas.org

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