NRA more on target with duffle-bag offer than gun-ban worries

The NRA wants me. There must be some mistake.

Actually, there was more than one mistake in a letter from the National Rifle Association the other day, inviting me to become a member for $25, a $10 saving if I act now. By joining up and signing "the enclosed National Petition to Protect Our Right to Keep and Bear Arms," I'd also get a free duffel bag, embossed in gold with the initials NRA.

My letter was impressively billed as a "Connecticut Gun Owner Priority Communication" but I am not now and never have been a Connecticut gun owner or a gun owner anywhere else.

The only gun I ever had was a loaner, an M-1 rifle the U.S. Army let me use for practice during basic training at Fort Knox in 1956. I did spend a lot of time with my rifle, not my gun, as we were repeatedly reminded in a crude verse. I learned to take it apart, put it together and fire it, but I had to turn it in after I was made an Army press agent and issued a typewriter instead. I never took another shot, except in columns and editorials.

The second mistake in the NRA letter was the assertion that "your Constitutional right to own a firearm is in great danger."

Now, even though I haven't fired a firearm in 55 years, I would not wish to see the right to own one in great danger because I believe the founders were right when they determined, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

We didn't have much of an army back then and the founders thought it would be a good idea if citizens - but not women or slaves, of course - had muskets in their closets in case the British came back.

Since then, lawmakers and courts have seen to it that the basic right has not been forgotten while they considered technological improvements to the musket and the declining need for part-time militias, criminals and nuts to have firearms. So how is my right to own a firearm in great danger? NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre was eager to explain.

"Anti-gunners control the vast regulatory power of the federal bureaucracy, the power to appoint anti-gun judges who can restrict your rights, and the legislative power of the U.S. Senate and many state legislatures to deny your Second Amendment freedoms," LaPierre wrote with passion, if not accuracy.

Then he got personal. He said legislators on the state and national levels are "being bombarded by the anti-gun elitists in the media calling for gun bans, gun owner registration and licensing, fingerprinting of gun owners, criminalization of commonly owned firearm accessories, regulations on how you store your firearms … anything and everything to further erode your Right to Keep and Bear Arms."

This media elitist doesn't see how the Second Amendment is subverted by registration or requiring people to store guns so kids can't get at them and I wanted the Connecticut legislature to pass a bill banning one of those "commonly owned firearm accessories."

The accessory is a magazine clip of the kind the Tucson accessorizer Jared Loughner used in January when he tried to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and managed to kill six people, including a 9-year-old girl. In a matter of seconds Loughner was also able to wound 12 others without reloading his Glock.

But the bill died in the Judiciary Committee, thanks to 200 NRA "sportsmen" who showed up at a public hearing and scared the legislators.

Wayne, I'm afraid you guys have too much power already, so I'll have to pass on the membership and petition, although I was tempted by the handsome duffel bag. It would be useful if I'm ever called up by the militia.

Dick Ahles is a retired journalist from Simsbury.

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