Patricia Weller's July 18 column purports to outline the National Rifle Association's long history, yet didn't come close. It relied on hype from a group opposed to individuals' rights, the Violence Policy Center, which was once more open about its disdain for private firearms ownership. Any notion of objectivity disappeared when the author opened with a quote from an organization that advocates for elimination of a constitutional right.
Instead of delivering on the column's promised content, readers were fed claims that this grass-roots organization exists to arm lunatics and criminals. The NRA could hardly have attracted 5 million people were its purpose to promote such foolishness. The veterans, medical professionals, farmers and practitioners of every trade in America who are the NRA belong for a simple reason -- freedom -- a belief in the entire Bill of Rights, to include the freedom to publish this paper, for which no permit is required under the First Amendment.
Yes, the NRA has changed: Once focused on equipping soldiers with the marksmanship skills their government could not impart, it continues that support, and now trains police and responsible citizens. No other group is as committed to safety, whose "Eddie Eagle" program teaches kids to "stop, don't touch, tell an adult" should they encounter a carelessly stored firearm. Through the advocacy of its active members, it is a champion for American values, yet draws criticism for holding politicians accountable to the Constitution they pledged to uphold.
Weller used selective data to imply firearms ownership is inherently dangerous, asserting that states with low gun ownership and restrictive gun laws have low crime rates. That would wrongly imply that places such as Washington, D.C., and Chicago are among our safest cities, and that bucolic states like Vermont, with liberal gun laws, are combat zones.
The NRA's view of the Obama administration's agenda is that citizens have the right to hold their government accountable. Attorney General Eric Holder is in contempt of Congress (aka the people) for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena that ordered the Justice Department to turn over its documents on the Fast and Furious debacle. Do we not have a right to know why our government ran a program that armed Mexican drug cartels, which led to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry?
Assisting our law enforcement and military do their jobs effectively and citizens to exercise a right responsibly while holding our elected officials accountable -- that's the history of the NRA.