BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
Holding my mail in my hand returning from my mailbox one day last week, I noticed that the load is lighter than usual. Just a newsletter, a Medicare claims report, and one other startling letter. It jumped out at me. From the National Rifle Association of America, it was lettered NRA in big bold letters in the upper left corner. But it was the “FINAL NOTICE” in huge red letters at the top middle that got my attention.
Why am I getting a FINAL NOTICE from the NRA, I wondered? Am I now on a hit list maintained by this semi-militia, muscular bunch with guns? Am I receiving notice that I am a target, and that they have their many gun-sights trained on me? Must I mend my ways or face the consequences? Well, I do recall that I have written unkind things about a bunch of rowdies with guns showing up at political protests by the Tea Party crowd. Is that it, I wondered?
Am I receiving a “cease and desist” order to stop my nefarious and unfriendly verbal assaults on gun-toters – OR ELSE? They are threatening me, I thought, and I wonder what the “OR ELSE” really means.
Admittedly my image of the NRA is not a good one. In my mind I see a bunch of burly, bearded, surly guys with guns and ammunition belts spitting tobacco juice. But then I recall that my beloved son in a suit and tie is a member.
Further, I remembered the elderly Charleton Heston standing before them holding up his rifle and dramatically declaring, “You’ll have to pry my gun from my cold dead fingers!” Then I thought, “At our advanced ages, I believe I could take him.” But, of course, he has passed on now. I wonder if they buried that gun in his handclasp. If so, there will be trouble at the Pearly Gates. They don’t allow guns up there.
Nevertheless, I continued my “woe is me” lamentations until I was inside in my chair opening the envelope. And, there to my wondering eye, were these words: “For years, NRA has asked patriotic Americans like you to join our cause.”
I am a patriotic American, they say. Well, it seems that they do not know me as well as I first imagined. Oh, yes, I am indeed a patriotic American, and I have my World War II service ribbons and good conduct medal to prove it. But, alas, I have not ordinarily exhibited the behaviors, nor held the opinions, that would give me such status in their organization.
They are giving me this “FINAL NOTICE” they say, because they only ask once. They go on to warn me the first of many times: “Unless you act now, your Second Amendment rights are certain to be dismantled and destroyed.” Now, I don’t own a gun, but that warning that I am going to lose my constitutional rights sounds foreboding enough to shake me a little.
They go on to tell me: “Your firearm freedoms and your hunting and shooting traditions are under attack like never before.” They say: “Right now, hundreds of anti-gun politicians in the U.S. Congress and the 50 state legislatures are casting votes, passing laws, and writing regulations that will decide the fate of your right to own a firearm.” I had never before imagined that such a horde of malicious, liberty-threatening politicians were after me.
Their mailing then goes on to name some of these “gun ban politicians” like Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi” who have an agenda to ban and limit guns, ratify a UN gun resolution, bankrupt American gun manufacturers, and close gun shops and gun shows. I noticed that all of those politicians conspiring against me and my constitutional freedoms were Democrats. Not one single gun-loving Republican was named an enemy conspirator against me.
That reminds me, too, that Sarah Palin, speaking to the NRA just this last week, said that President Obama intends to come after our guns. “He just can’t get enough support yet,” she said.
“Once I hear from you,” the letter went on, “I can walk right into your senator’s or congressman’s office and tell them that a new NRA member is watching their votes ….. and will do WHATEVER IT TAKES to defend our guns and our freedoms.” That business about doing “whatever it takes” worries me a bit. I am not quite ready to turn over to anyone a license to “do whatever it takes” on my behalf on anything, much less my rights to carry and shoot an AK-47.
Each of the last few years, we have had introduced in Oklahoma some pretty wild gun rights bills. We have some pretty wild legislators who are doing everything they can to please this organization, the one that is recruiting me as a reluctant member. It seems that these same folk will not be satisfied until they turn our towns, colleges, tech schools, and businesses into frontier cities with wild west saloons, OK corrals, and gunfights. Oklahoma’s governor just vetoed another crazy “open carry” gun law.
Of course, the counter argument is that our streets are already full of marauding gangs with guns preying on businesses and citizens, and that gun carrying citizens will produce built-in peacekeepers – vigilantes ready to shoot it out with the hoodlums. This argument hardly holds water. Police say they can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys when both have guns.
This one citizen will feel safer if the only guns in the business he enters belong to the proprietor, the only guns in the theatre or concert hall he attends belong to the security guards, and the only guns in the house he enters belong to the homeowner. And, most certainly he would feel safer if the only guns on the streets were in the possession of the police. But that is just this one naïve, patriotic American citizen, who the NRA is recruiting.
Other than the laissez faire legal attitude of some legislators and gun rights folk about gun-toting rights and privileges, another thing that bothers me about their agenda is the unwillingness to make any reasonable compromises regarding automatic assault weapons and extreme ammunition. There is no defensible reason for private citizens to possess, carry, or use AK-47 assault rifles or other modified automatic weapons of a military style. There is no good reason for ordinary citizens to possess various upgraded “high kill, high tissue damage,” or explosive ammunition.
Before anyone hastily changes my designation from “patriotic American” to “socialist, pinko, liberal pig,” please allow me to explain that the basic position of this writer is the same as every organization or association of law enforcement officers, sheriffs, and police in the nation. I stand right with my patriotic brothers in blue and with those wearing the badge.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer