Commentary: I continue to hope the NRA will regain its sanity 

Gun Rights

For the sake of transparency, I should declare that I am a card carrying, lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. More on my relationship and the NRA organization later on in this letter.

Looking back over the last few weeks, a sensible individual, interested in gun safety and responsible ownership of firearms, might struggle to come up with an explanation to describe what has arguably become a life or death issue for all citizens. In a word, I would offer MADNESS.

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Let’s start with our governor, Chris Sununu, who declares “New Hampshire is one of the safest states in the nation“ followed by “there is no state that is immune from a crisis like we saw in Texas.”

Let me digress by offering that as of July 2, there has not been a mass shooting in New Hampshire (since 1997) and, as horrible as the thought is, in all probability it will happen.

As for the governor’s opinion on expanded firearms laws, “We’re not looking to make any changes.”: In keeping with his “safest stay in the nation“ dialogue, the governor signed into law a measure allowing pistols on ATVs and snowmobiles. Apparently, the Second Amendment crowd wanted to ensure gun rights to off-road vehicle owners. One can only imagine those “pistol packers” feeling threatened by a bear or moose. It galls me to no end that our state’s beautiful and wild places are potential shooting galleries. Now (the governor has signed) a bill banning New Hampshire from enforcing any federal gun limits not identical to state statute. As it turns out, the governor and all those pistol packers have nothing to worry about; the Supreme Court has preempted those concerns by deciding that Americans have the right to carry firearms in public. MADNESS! 

Speaking of MADNESS,  Majority Leader, Rep. Jason Osborne, advocates keeping children safe by teaching firearms training at schools, children and teachers alike. Sarah Lerner, a teacher at Marjory S. Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, where in 2016 a shooter killed 17 people and wounded 17 others might address Rep. Osborne with the same statement she made after the Douglas shooting: “We got into education because we love children, we love our subject matter and we love teaching. None of us got into education to be human shields, to be bodyguards and makeshift police officers.” This could be a good place to begin ENDING THE MADNESS. 

It’s astounding how how many gun owners wrap themselves in the Second Amendment, which reads, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Two questions come to mind; what defines a well-regulated militia and what kind of arms? In the 18th century, a well-regulated militia had a clear meaning: states had a right to organize armed citizens for the common defense. At that time, states did regulate individual gun ownership and local and state authorities frequently confiscated guns form persons they deemed a menace to public safety or simply disloyal. In reference to types of arms, assault type weapons i.e. AR-15s are pushing the envelope, but what’s next? Rocket and grenade launchers? Yes, the latter are not available on the open market but are in all probability through other sources.

The pro-gun crowd loves to crow about responsible gun ownership, patriotic American gun owners protecting life, liberty and property, and how weapons laws are  penalizing law abiding citizens who are exercising their god-given rights. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” ”When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns” and “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” are examples of the “same old, same old“ absurdity that has been around for decades.

Before the Supreme Court declared Americans had a right to carry I had an acquaintance (referring to the Second Amendment) describe his right as a “constitutional carry.”

A militia by definition is a paramilitary organization. Pertaining to the Second Amendment gun-owning crowd, what constitutes a well regulated militia and where is the command structure? Would the millions of responsible, law-abiding gun owners tell us they are the militia and have no use for a command structure? 

Regarding my NRA membership, at the age of 12, I learned to shoot via the NRA program and was member of the junior NRA .Growing older and eventually becoming  a seasonal hunter, I stayed with the NRA and benefited for the relationship.

Sadly the NRA of today has no resemblance to the organization it was years ago. The latest example being the July edition of the American Rifleman, the NRA official  publication. Articles related to rare arms, gun safety or hunting techniques are all but buried by politically charged columns authored by the president and executive VP that promote  the “armed citizen“ and open carry. Advertisements for new assault type weapons and high capacity magazines can dominate full pages. Disappointing and discouraging, but I continue to maintain the relationship in the hopes that sanity will return to a once great organization.

Peter Rice of New Castle is a self-described Liz Cheney Republican.

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