Commentary: This Republican, NRA gun owner has had enough

Gun Rights

It’s past time for responsible gun owners to speak out against assault weapons and call for a ban. These killing machines do not belong in public places in the hands of untrained civilians and kids who can’t even buy beer.

I’m no liberal. I’ve voted Republican my whole life and was a National Rifle Association member for more than 50 years until the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. I have a 10-year-old granddaughter who was in her fourth grade classroom in San Antonio on May 24, just 80 miles from Uvalde. It’s too close to home, and I’m tired of seeing nothing done in the 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Since then, mass shootings have nearly tripled.

I’ve long thought assault weapons were just a toy to so many people looking for the next shiny object. No reasonable gun owner uses them to hunt. Their sole purpose is to slaughter humans.

I’ve owned 26 acres in Medina County for nearly 50 years; I’ve been a gun owner and sportsman for longer. I’m a native Texan and U.S. Navy veteran. I take great pride in my state and my country, but I’ve seen some changes over time with the NRA.

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When I first became involved with the NRA in the 1960s, it was an organization for outdoorsmen and hunters like me. Over the years, it started morphing into something different — more akin to a lobbying arm for gun manufacturers. All the NRA wanted was money to help elect politicians and pass wild laws. They bombarded my mailbox. The messaging was strong and simple: “They” were “coming for my guns” and “good guys with guns stop bad guys.”

No one has ever come for my guns, despite what the NRA has told me for the past 30 years. I still have all of them — maybe 10 or so. I also now know it’s rare for an armed civilian to stop a mass shooting.

Look around you — we have insane laws that make it permissible to walk around publicly openly carrying guns without any training or licensing. The NRA is the best marketing department. That’s why manufacturers of assault weapons brought in more than $1 billion in sales since Sandy Hook.

The guns in public places today being carried by untrained civilians are creating war zones. Kids are now more likely to be killed from gun violence than car accidents.

The Second Amendment was written in a time of muskets and pistols that fired maybe three to four rounds a minute. I’m heartbroken as a father, grandfather and responsible gun owner that the Second Amendment has been perverted to the extent that it has where our elected officials allow these war weapons on our streets. This needs to change.

My hope is that other gun owners, regardless of political affiliation, will break down the political walls and see the truth — money in politics is the root of evil. It’s time for responsible gun owners to lead the way for reasonable gun reforms. That will truly make me proud to be an American and Texan, and leave this world a little safer for my granddaughter.

Bernie Phillip is a native Texan, veteran, and hunter for more than 60 years. His career at Kelly AFB spanned more than three decades. He served four years in the U.S. Navy.

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