I watched the horrible news of the Parkland, Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School unfold on live TV.  I saw the children, as they fled the buildings with hands up – some of them with Valentine balloons in tow - in stunned confusion of “Another”:  Another mass school shooting… Another preventable act of gun violence… Another devastated community… Another round of meaningless prayers from legislators and deafening silence from the NRA.

I am heartsick over the death of so many children and teachers, and I am tired of hearing that word, “another”, in the same sentence as “school shooting”. I don’t understand why any civilian would need an AR-15-style gun and why they are not banned. The NRA lobbyists are not going to be honest about that, so I went to some NRA members and asked them. Their answers surprised me because I had a preconceived notion that they would be gun-clinging fanatics. The ones I spoke to were not fanatics, but sensible, responsible gun owners who support gun regulations.

When I asked an owner of an AR-15 what purpose it serves, he said, “The AR-15 is not a good personal self-defense gun. I use it to kill coyotes and in high-level competitions. It’s used to hunt and kill wild boars, some places. But they shouldn’t be so easy to buy and a ban would not be a bad thing.”

One member told me that the NRA is not in sync with its membership and has strayed from its original mission. He also sent me a link to an article on a survey of gun owners, copying this point to show me what he meant:

·  The NRA is out of touch with gun owners on gun safety issues such as background checks:  Only 29 percent of gun owners feel that the NRA represents their thinking when it comes to background checks, with 62 percent saying the NRA is out of line with them on the issue. That fits in with a broader feeling that the NRA has lost it way: 59 percent of gun owners feel that the NRA used to be an organization devoted to gun safety but that it has been overtaken by lobbyists and the interests of gun manufacturers and lost its original purpose and mission. Nearly one-third of NRA members believe the organization has lost its way.

Other NRA members I spoke with all agreed with the above statement. There was one lifetime member who summed it up by saying, That is spot on how I feel. I'm ashamed to be part of the NRA now. My email is inundated with propaganda from them. They have lost touch with their members... they polarize the politics just as much as the media. 

“I have a C&R license. I have to meet a higher standard for gun control and securement. My guns are not a right... they are a privilege. The ATF can audit me anytime and I am ok with this. I am happy to exceed normal ownership requirements. I can honestly say most gun enthusiasts feel the same way I do. 

“We have the right to bear arms. That right doesn't mean we shouldn't be held to a higher standard. Just like a driver’s license.”

I also asked if there were other organizations that compete with the NRA, that are more in line with the NRA’s original mission. A hunter told me, “Wildlife Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and a few others. But NRA has the lion’s share of the market.”

The NRA has the lion’s share of the market… and they have the politicians in office under their control, so that they won’t do anything about gun control. With another mass school shooting, they stick to the same talking points – “It’s too soon to talk about gun control.”, and “Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected.” etc., etc.

But with this shooting, the Parkland students are confronting the legislators and calling BS on the NRA and politicians’ pathetic responses.

This is not just any student uprising; it is a student uprising like no other. Just days after the trauma of seeing their classmates and teachers gun downed, they organized, marched on lawmakers and demanded action – not prayers, not thoughts, but action.

I am so impressed by how articulate and informed these students are, and as a baby-boomer, I think it’s time for us old folks to get behind them or get out of their way. They are taking charge and making their voices heard. They ARE the future… and they are in the fight of their life, fighting for their lives.

They are also social media savvy, with Twitter hashtags #NEVERAGAIN and #AMarch4OurLives. They have an informational website about the March 24th march on Washington D.C.  They are awesome. 

They give me a sense of pride in America. And they give me a good “another” – another hope for our democracy.


Bonnie Bertelson

Bonnie Bertelson

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  • This is (anecdotal evidence) the same I hear from my friends who own guns. They are conscientious, well aware of the dangers, and (often) shocked at the misuse of guns by others.

    i think it would be wise if they were louder and spoke out more. The reputations tarnished most by the misuse of guns are these responsible gun owners. It's to their benefit that steps are taken to ensure only those willing to be responsible have access to guns.

  • You're talking to someone who took "safety and Marksmanship" classes from the NRA through middle school and high school. I was not taught to be "comfortable" with my gun; I was taught that it would kill, and I had to hold myself to the highest standards if I truly wanted to be considered a marksman. When they started the "gun is your binky-blanket" bullshit. I resigned my membership.