LETTER: Time for NRA Members to Take Their Organization Back


I was waiting to hear the National Rifle Association’s response following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School before commenting. To no surprise it was the same old hardline rhetoric. So it was with great interest to me when I read Bob Brown’s recent column on the NRA. Bob’s concern was the direction the NRA is heading.

Bob Brown is not alone. A lot of folks feel the same way as far as the NRA is concerned. I gave up my NRA membership about 30 years ago. Bob got a high rating from the NRA and I respect that. I would probably get a score of “F.” I don’t run for public office so I don’t care what my rating is.

I probably own more guns than Bob (who’s counting?), and have been a gun owner since I was 12 years old. My first real gun was a 22 pump action. When I hit the ripe old age of 16, my grandmother handed me my grandfather’s Stevens-Springfield 410 side by side shotgun. Then my dad thought I was old enough to handle my first real hunting rifle, a model 98 Mauser 8×57, one of several ‘98s he brought back from the war.

All this being said, my passion and enthusiasm in firearms, hunting and the outdoors has never waned. The mouthpiece for the NRA, Wayne LaPierre and his high paid lobbyists have more than hijacked an organization that at one time had the greatest respect of gun owners and non-gun owners alike all across the country. They are, in fact, holding the majority of gun owners hostage to their radical, extreme agenda. A closer look reveals nothing less than extortion and racketeering all done on the backs of good people with good intensions – the NRA membership – many of whom are my friends and neighbors.

There are about 13 to 14 million hunters in this country, not to mention the many millions of other gun owners who enjoy some aspect of the shooting sports. The NRA membership is around 4 million. If I do the math right, the NRA represents only a small number of gun owners. It certainly doesn’t represent me.

A few years back, Jim Zumbo posted a column about his concern of the use of semi-automatic assault weapons with high capacity clips in our forests and fields for hunting. Jim is a well-respected rifleman, author and conservationist. His articles appear in many national magazines. He felt that these types of weapons broke the code of what is ethical and fair. I don’t believe Jim Zumbo talked about banning or even restricting these types of weapons, yet the high paid gun lobby thugs came down hard on him. Even the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation dragged its feet on coming to Jim’s defense. They were too wrapped up in what their NRA rating might be.

It’s time for the NRA membership to take their organization back. Send Wayne LaPierre and the high paid big mouths packing so the organization can get back to its real roots. Then they will win back the respect and support of the majority of American people. Who knows, once the big mouths are gone, I might even join once again.

Frank Vitale
Columbia Falls