The first email today comes from Robert in Portland (Maine? Oregon?). I mentioned the other day that I'm a proud member of the National Rifle Association. He has a problem with that.
You and your gun-toting buddies are all alike. Rednecks all. The NRA and the Republicans - is there a difference? oppose every progress this country attempts while there are people out in the streets of our cities armed with ak47's killing women and children. Doesn't that bother you?Answer: No.
What bothers me is the fact that people like you are allowed to watch reruns of old Clint Eastwood movies and to fantasize about mayhem in the streets. I have some familiarity with the AK-47. It is a fully automatic weapon that is fully illegal in this country for a citizen to own - or to fire at women and children (without a special federal permit; to own that is, not to shoot women and children with). You probably meant one of the civilian versions of the weapon. I sometimes make the same mistake. You are forgiven.
What I won't forgive you for is being a coward and for buying in to this kind of bullshit. Show me one instance of an individual (adult/child, male/female) who was killed by someone armed with an AK-47 in 2004 (in the USA) and I'll kiss your hairy, wrinkled, pimpled butt.
Now to more serious matters.
Why am I a member of the NRA? I am not a fanatic. I don't even hunt any more. I did years ago but drifted away from it for whatever reason (I don't drink much anymore either. The two are surely related.). I own a sizeable arsenal of weapons but don't flaunt them. Truth be known, I don't often fire any of them. My daughter will occasionally drop by to hone her skills at dropping an intruder with her Ruger 9mm semi-automatic badass handgun, but with that exception when we go back the turnpike and blow the hell out of a dead tree, I don't "sling much hot lead."
I am, however, a member of the National Rifle Association for what I consider to be the most important reason on earth.
They protect me.
I have a passion for liberty. For the freedoms that a bunch of dead white guys passed down to us. For those precious rights outlined in the Bill of Rights (as well as others that are delineated in natural law) that many of our ancestors fought for - and in the case of heroes like my father at Normandy, shed blood to protect.
I know how insecure our freedoms are. There are politicians in Washington who find it cumbersome to have to work around these rights relating to freedoms of speech, religion, assembly - to bear arms in defense of one's home and country- and would, if given the chance, legislate them out of existence.
John McCain comes to mind.
The NRA is focused on one of these issues - with passion and unrelenting fortitude. They - we - accept no less than that our elected representatives (our employees!) adhere to the principles upon which these United States rest, whether they like it or not. We - the people - have a right to keep and bear arms. We make this demand - that the government not interfere with this most precious of rights - for the most fundamental of reasons. One that has been driven home by Charlton Heston, a man of towering integrity - and another of my heroes.
The original amendments we refer to as the Bill of Rights contain ten of what the constitutional framers termed unalienable rights. These rights are ranked in random order and are linked by their essential equality. The Bill of Rights came to us with blinders on. It doesn't recognize color, or class, or wealth. It protects not just the rights of actors, or editors, or reporters, but extends even to those we love to hate.
I say the Second Amendment is. in order of importance, the first amendment. It is America's First Freedom, the one right that protects all of the others. Among freedom of speech, of the press, of religion, of assembly, of redress of grievances, it is the first among equals. It alone offers the absolute capacity to live without fear. The right to keep and bear arms is the one right that allows "rights" to exist at all.
Either you believe that, or you don't, and you must decide.
I do. I have. I proudly send the NRA $35 each year having made that decision.
And I sleep well at night.
Now aren't you glad you brought this up, Robert?