LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Reader takes issue with letter on gun control

On March 26, you published an editorial by Wayne Doenges, a Korean War veteran and gun safety instructor who says he’s insulted by those “ignorant and liberal-leaning individuals” who denounce the NRA. He says he’s tired of lies. Well, I’m a liberal-leaning individual, who believes that the NRA has become an extreme hate organization whose irrational hold on political discourse must be checked. I don’t think I’m ignorant. I know and love many NRA members like Mr. Doenges and know them to be otherwise rational, compassionate people. I am an attorney. I live in a rural area, and all of my neighbors are gun people. We care for and respect each other.

But the extremism of the NRA isn’t a result of its rank and file members.

NRA leadership uses its power in a hateful way. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, at the CPAC Convention on February 22, 2018, referred to all post-Obama-era Democrats (I quote): “They hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom….[They] don’t care about America’s schoolchildren…Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our firearms freedoms, so they can eradicate all individual freedoms. What they want are more restrictions on the law-abiding.” He goes on to refer to all of us Democrats as European-style socialists “bearing down upon” America simply to get “more control over people.”

Now, who, exactly, is doing the insulting? My mother used to say, “Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.” Our national Democratic leaders are not attacking NRA people personally. They are making principled, factual arguments against the extreme NRA agenda. No national Democratic leader is calling for an end to gun rights.

No one, including Mr. Doenges, believes that the Second Amendment bars all regulation of personal firearms. In 1934, the NRA supported federal legislation for the strict regulation of automatic weapons. The fact that there are now few machine guns in public hands is evidence that gun regulation works in the interest of public safety.

Mr. Doenges believes, rightly, that training in firearm safety is vital. But he wrongly believes the Second Amendment would forbid the state to require such training before a gun permit issues. The Second Amendment ties the right to keep and bear Arms to “a well-regulated militia.” That means the state can regulate use and possession of arms. It would be constitutional to require registration and training for anyone wishing to bear arms.

Mr. Doenges believes liberals are ignorant on the Second Amendment. Yet, he is proud a member of an organization that, in 1996, pressured congressional Republicans to effectively discontinue gun-related research by the federal Centers for Disease Control. So today, because of a dearth of research, all arguments on either side are based mainly on their view of “common sense” rather than data. Prohibiting research is the foundation of “ignorance.”

Mr. Doenges would agree, I think, that background-check legislation is necessary so that only “good guys” have guns. Yet, his beloved NRA, since 1994, coerced Republicans to filibuster all such legislation, refusing to close gaps in the background-check system.

— John M. Beams, Churubusco

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