Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Mark Kelly put the wood to the NRA leadership as NRA members arrived in Houston, Texas for the NRA convention, in a op-ed published in the Houston Chronicle. NRA leadership should refocus its priorities:
As a former Houstonian, I'm glad to see the National Rifle Association is holding its annual convention in Space City. I lived and worked not far from the George R. Brown Convention Center
and I am confident that the thousands of NRA members who attend this
year's meeting will find a friendly and welcoming city. I am certain you
will have a fabulous time.
I have often considered joining the NRA myself, and if I had, maybe I
would be there with all of you this weekend. Unfortunately, today there
are many important issues that your leadership and I no longer agree
But first, let's try to find some common ground. Here's something we
can agree on: We should thank the majority of the NRA's 4 million
members who are law-abiding citizens who use their guns responsibly.
Now, I want to speak to the 74 percent of those people – more than 3
million – who supported expanded background checks. Some of those people
probably joined the NRA before 1999 – you know, the year that Executive
Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre testified in favor of background checks.
Let me set the record straight: Gun rights and gun safety go hand in
hand. Gabby and I respect the right of Americans to own guns; we own
guns ourselves and we use them. NRA members know this about gun rights
and gun safety. That's why so many of you support expanding background
I grew up around guns. My mom and dad were cops and then I joined the
military, where I saw combat in Iraq and Kuwait. Gabby owns a gun that
we would often shoot. She has even used the range at the NRA's
headquarters in Virginia. So have I. Gabby
supported a lot of "pro gun" federal legislation, such as upholding
Second Amendment rights for citizens who live in our nation's capital.
Like so many of you, we know that preventing dangerous people from
getting guns doesn't affect our ability to buy or use our guns
responsibly. And that's why the NRA leadership throws out a lot of
doomsday scenarios, fear-mongering and yelling in order to distract
people from a critical distinction: What most members of the NRA want
from the organization and what the leadership is actually doing are not
The NRA used to be a great organization, and you can still get
practical value out of it as a member – everything from insurance to gun
safety courses. But those services are small potatoes compared to where
the NRA's leadership makes the really big money. The NRA leadership's
top priority is to make sure the corporations that make guns and
ammunition continue to turn huge profits. Their top priority isn't you,
the NRA member.
The NRA's two best fundraising months of the past year came
immediately following the shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn.
Guns fly off the shelves after tragedies because LaPierre and the gun
manufacturers he represents exploit people's fears. In return, gun
manufacturers gave LaPierre and the NRA tens of millions of dollars last
year alone – and he spent almost $1 million of it on his own salary.
Everyone in the gun lobby gets rich when the gun manufacturers sell the
And that's why LaPierre and the rest of the leadership of the NRA and
other gun organizations are spending so much of their time wild-eyed,
preaching possible government confiscations. It's because they don't
want the membership to notice they've turned their backs on the very
safety measures, like background checks, that the organization used to
stand for – in exchange for cold hard cash.
So, to the millions of responsible gun owners who are members of the
NRA, I offer two thoughts: First, we, at Americans for Responsible
Solutions, would be proud to stand with you. You can keep your NRA
membership because we're a place for responsible gun owners who want to
make sure our laws apply equally to everyone, and who don't want to let
criminals run wild with firearms. We'd love to have you and we will
protect your Second Amendment rights in a reasonable and responsible
Second: Those who don't learn the lessons of history are doomed to
repeat it, right? The current NRA leadership came to power when the
membership felt the old leadership had lost touch with the
organization's values and no longer was reflecting the wishes of the
When LaPierre and his crew of highly paid Beltway insider staff
reversed their earlier support of common-sense measures like expanded
background checks, they sent a strong message that instead of standing
with the 3 million of your members who supported background checks, they
were working on behalf of the manufacturers' profit margins instead.
It seems to me that the time is right for a new generation of leaders
within the NRA. Maybe some of you are here this weekend in Houston. We
can't wait to work with you to protect our Second Amendment rights and
keep our kids safer.
Kelly, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, lived and raised a
family in Houston while serving as the commander of the space shuttles
Discovery and Endeavour. With his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords,
D-Ariz., Kelly is co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, which seeks to reduce gun violence.