The first thing that jumps out at me is the bright red “FINAL NOTICE” on the envelope. Wondering which bill I forgot to pay, I grab the envelope from my mailbox and notice the return address marked “National Rifle Association of America” and “NRA.”
I’ve never been an NRA member or tried to become one. Why is this nonprofit group that advocates for gun rights and lobbies lawmakers with the zeal of a drunken billionaire uncle sending me a letter with a slightly demanding tone?
The letter’s author, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, begins his two-and-a-half page rant with, “Dear Fellow American, today I’m sending out this “Final Notice” [underline, double quotes his] because gun owners like you and me need to stand together right now to defend our country and our freedoms.”
I’m reading the letter while walking up my driveway and thinking to myself: 1.) How does Mr. LaPierre know I’m a gun owner? And 2.) I’m fairly certain I don’t need to stand with anybody about anything, especially someone with such a specific and unbending concept of what defines freedom. I have the feeling that LaPierre’s definition equates restricting AR-15 sales with pissing on George Washington’s grave.
While growing up, I hunted deer, dove, quail, and hogs frequently and considered the NRA a group that pushed for gun safety and marksmanship. Over time, NRA leaders moved beyond basic advocacy and into the realm of zealothood. Founded in 1871, the group didn’t endorse a president’s candidacy until 1980, supporting ultimate victor Ronald Reagan. Since then, the NRA has gone from encouraging the little Jeffies of the world to be safe and shoot straight to buying the souls of state legislators, who pass laws forbidding cities and counties from enacting their own gun ordinances in the wake of myriad mass shootings.
LaPierre’s next sentence says, “You and I know our enemies are not going away.”
Huh? We have common enemies? Who knew? I used to think our common enemy was Russia, but it seems the NRA folks are quite cozy with the Ruskies.
LaPierre clears up my confusion by telling me it is the “extreme leftists” who are trying to “tear our nation apart.” Those lefties include “anti-gun judges,” “gun-hating bureaucrats,” and “media elites.”
I’m a member of the news media, but I’m not elite, and I don’t hate guns. I haven’t bought a gun in 20 years, but I own a half-dozen of them and still enjoy hunting and shooting. I suppose LaPierre sends these final-notice letters to people like me who buy hunting licenses but don’t belong to the NRA.
LaPierre explains the “Final Notice” as a call to action to battle “anti-gun politicians” who are “poised to SEIZE CONTROL” of Congress.
“That’s why gun owners like you need to join the NRA RIGHT NOW.”
LaPierre loves his Caps Lock button as much as the Second Amendment.
The executive describes the NRA as a “nonpartisan, grassroots” group just before launching into a fear-mongering screed about him and me being in the “fight of our lives” to save guns and freedom. The fight is so crucial that LaPierre offers to knock $10 off an annual membership price, meaning I can join for a mere $30. Oh, and my membership means I will receive action alerts to warn me when my “freedoms are under attack,” particularly from the “anti-gun media.”
Dear Mr. LaPierre, consider this my official rejection of your final notice membership offer. I appreciate the safety and marksmanship efforts your group uses to educate young hunters, but please stop threatening our democracy by paying off lawmakers and scaring people with lies.