Readers write: A gun owner’s experience with the NRA, and more

Assault rifles, bump stocks, the Second Amendment, and more: Readers discuss their opinions on the NRA and the state of gun ownership in America.

Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor
David Dell’aquila checks his guns next to the makeshift shooting range on his ranch on Sept. 17, 2019, just outside of Burkesville, Kentucky. A member of the National Rifle Association, Mr. Dell’aquila is trying to change the leadership of the organization from within.

Editor’s note: The Oct. 14 Monitor Weekly cover story, “The gunfight of his life,” elicited many reader responses. Here’s a selection of letters discussing the article.

Gun owner’s NRA experience

The cover story was a great article with a narrative that needed to be told. I am a gun owner. I have never been a member of the National Rifle Association and never will. NRA leadership is too militant for me; they do not seem willing to compromise.

I believe strongly in background checks and also that all gun sales should be regulated. In other words, no sale – including a private one – should occur without filling out the proper forms for a transfer of ownership, just like buying from a licensed dealer.

The NRA apparently doesn’t see it that way, and many of my gun-owning friends say a private sale should remain private. I disagree, but apparently the NRA believes what my friends do.

David Bacon
Fort Huachuca, Arizona

Militias and the Second Amendment

I am not a constitutional scholar by any means, but there is something about the way that many people discuss the Second Amendment that is very puzzling to me. The amendment itself is simply one sentence that contains two ideas. The first idea – “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” – is almost never mentioned. The only thing people seem to focus on is the second idea: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Why is that?

The first part of the sentence gives me the impression that people who keep and bear arms are meant to be part of a well-regulated militia – for example, the National Guard. 

That would be quite a change. It would mean that people who use guns would need to be registered as part of a militia. That is, they would undergo some sort of group basic training and regular periodic reviews to maintain their skills. In addition, there might be certain requirements concerning what kinds of guns they must have or must not have. 

Why is this half of the Second Amendment never discussed and certainly never implemented? Would David Dell’aquila, who was featured in the cover story, enjoy being part of a well-regulated militia in Kentucky? Would it help to end the corruption that is rampant in the NRA?

Marianne Preger-Simon
Whately, Massachusetts

I am a documented immigrant living in the United States. What I never understand about America is why the first half of the Second Amendment is often conveniently forgotten. 

Why aren’t all the people who so happily want to own guns required to train in a militia? If they did, they could be deployed to situations like border protection, instead of the U.S. military. I suspect that if many gun owners had to go through a stringent training like the military does, they might not be so casual about owning guns. 

Why do so many people have to have multiple guns, anyway? Coming from overseas, the attitude to owning guns here seems totally out of proportion to the need. Yes, farmers might need guns to get rid of vermin and other predators, and some people, like Mr. Dell’aquila, might like to belong to gun clubs. But just owning guns for gun ownership’s sake – potentially in homes where young children can get hold of them – is just plain scary to those of us who do not come from such a culture.

America is no longer a country that needs pioneers to open up the vast expanses of land. More than 50% of the U.S. is urban or suburban, and guns in those environments are doing much more harm than good, in my opinion. Perhaps the wording of the Second Amendment needs to be changed to meet the modern-day needs of this country.

Nina Maynard
Portland, Oregon

Rethinking the narrative

The cover story was a complete waste of space and should never have been featured. It could be summarized in a couple of sentences: NRA members are upset with greed and corruption in the organization. They don’t want to bring it down; they want to reform it.

The article could have been redeemed if Mr. Dell’aquila had explained why NRA members need a 40-round clip or a bump stock or an assault rifle to bring down Bambi. The Christian Science Monitor is a superior newsmagazine, but you missed the mark on this one. 

Michael J. Lopez
Nederland, Texas

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