To the editor: NRA members are only hope

The recent massacre at a church in Texas was the 307th mass shooting this year. The rank and file members of the NRA are our best (perhaps only) hope for stemming such horrors, which are so common that we have begun to accept them as a fact of life in America.

It is obvious that our political “leaders” will do nothing because they are terrified of offending the NRA. The president could not even express his condolences to the families of the latest victims in Texas, without mentioning that the slaughter was a mental health problem, not a gun problem. The Texas attorney general said it is “naïve” to support an assault weapons ban because only law abiding citizens would obey it while “bad guys” ignored it. Let’s think about that for a moment.

Drugs, like guns, are cheap, easily attainable, and lethal. But no one argues that we should get rid of laws against drug trafficking, or that it’s naïve to ban heroin, for example, because bad guys always will find some to sell to customers. In fact, the president has promised tougher actions to combat the epidemic of drug addiction.

Similarly, everyone in America has the right to drive at age 16 or 17, and consume alcohol at age 21. On average, 28 people die every day in DUI accidents, but no one argues that it is naïve to have laws against drunk driving. No one believes that drug or DUI laws will totally prevent overdoses or car fatalities. We have those laws because we feel we are safer with them than without them. Why does the same logic not apply to common sense gun control regulations?

There is a way to respect Second Amendment rights while making it more difficult for psychopaths to get their hands on assault weapons. However, we have no chance of enacting practical, common sense protections unless a multitude of NRA members demand it. Until politicians and NRA leaders fear a backlash from this now silent majority, they will continue to be impediments to change.

So, my plea to friends and neighbors who are NRA members is to please do something – refuse to pay your dues, cancel your membership, write a letter, better yet, elect new leaders. Join your non-NRA neighbors in demanding action. If we do nothing, there will be more tragedies like the recent horrors in Texas and Las Vegas. In the past, Vermont has had a great impact upon national affairs despite its modest size. We can do this again.

Bill Dunkel
Windham, VT

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  1. Robert Nied says:

    The tendency to declare the Second Amendment as sacrosanct and an excuse to oppose gun control ignores historical context.

    The Second Amendment was drafted in 1792 when all men between the age of 16 and 60 were actually required to own guns as part of belonging to a militia. That idea of an armed militia eventually evolved into the National Guard.

    The framers were not motivated by private gun ownership when they drafted the Second Amendment and the assertion that they intended to codify private gun ownership for individual self-protection is not supported by the historical record.

    The Second Amendment was not touted as a license for unlimited gun ownership until the 20th century (primarily in response to an aggressive and radical lobbying of the NRA) and was not considered justification for private gun ownership for self-protection until the Supreme Court Heller ruling in 2008, which many Constitution scholars view as anomalous and misguided.

    Even in Heller, the court asserted that banning many types of guns and prohibiting the bearing of guns in many types of environments was absolutely constitutional. It is not only inaccurate to suggest that the Second Amendment universally ensures the right to bear arms, it is also unfounded to suggest that an amendment written 225 years ago could not and should not be changed.

    The Constitution has been amended 27 times and at least one amendment, the 18th, was repealed. It is time the citizens of the U.S. decide if they wish to cling to a 225-year-old law for which they pay dearly in death and injury or if they wish to move to a more civil and compassionate society that values life over firearms.

  2. William Dunkel says:

    In response to my recent letter to the editor urging NRA members to support common sense gun control (assault weapons ban, tougher background checks, closing private gun sale loopholes) Mr. Maskell claimed assault rifles don’t exist. Type “assault rifle” into any browser and a definition and dozens of photos will pop up in a few seconds. Mr. Forbes’ solution to our dilemma is for all of us to go about our daily business toting AR-15s. Welcome to the Wild West. As for all the great things the NRA does to combat gun violence, tell that to the parents whose kids died at Sandy Hook. Even that horror could not get NRA leaders to alter their thinking. In the meantime, as we verbally joust, there has been another mass shooting in California.

    Bill Dunkel

  3. Nathan R. Adams says:

    Vermont has the weakest GUN Laws of the 50 States!! Have you had any MASS killings of late?
    Don’t ever forget this Quote from David Barton…”THE SECOND AMENDMENT, Preserving the Inalienable RIGHT of Individual Self-Protection.”
    That Quote is also the Title of a neat little book by Mr. Barton and every Liberal Anti-Gun Vermonter should be made to read it!!!

  4. Hegesias Cyrene says:

    Get money out of politics and the NRA will go away.

  5. Paul Maskell says:

    Bill speaks of “common sense laws”, yet all the ones on the books are not enforced. I have not met a gun control advocate ever propose a law that has any common sense to it at all. Bill still is the minority of people that don’t get it. Stopping certain types of guns that look scary, or make up scary names like “assault rifle”, (which to this day are none in existence), and ban them, will not stop law breakers from doing so.

    Perhaps Bill will one day seek out the facts from the US Gov depts. that show you the true statistics.

  6. Kenneth Forbes Jr says:

    As usual Mr Dunkel is trying to persuade the public about something he knows nothing about. If he would only do a little research, and I don’t mean watch CNN OR MSMBC or the like , he would find out the the NRA does more to combat senseless gun violence then any other group or politician, or group of politicians out there. The laws are already in place that make it ileagal to do what these maniacs have done in this country. The best way to stop it is to protect your self Mr. Dunkel, the man that stopped this syco in Texas was a law abiding citizen with a rifle, just like the one you like to refer as an assault weapon. No one knows how many other innocent people may have been hurt by this guy if not for a brave citizen with a gun. Choose not to be a victim Mr. Dunkel, buy a gun, learn how to use it, practice enough so you are proficient and not afraid of it, and maybe someday god forbid, you will have the ability to save your life or the life of a loved one. But don’t try and take that right away from the rest of the law abiding citizens in this country, It may be one of us that saves your life one day.

  7. Fred says:

    “On average, 28 people die every day in DUI accidents, but no one argues that it is naïve to have laws against drunk driving.”

    We already have laws against using weapons to commit murder. How will more gun laws stop someone from doing so?

  8. Maureen Bell says:

    Well said!