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Do it today 

Responsible gun owners need to take over the NRA or leave it

Did you catch page three of The Tribune the other day? There were three stories “above the fold.”

• A mass shooting in Ohio, eight dead (“there was blood all over”).

• A mass shooting in Georgia, five people dead.

• Two officers shot, suspect dead in Arizona.

The key thing about this isn’t what’s in the stories. It’s the fact that they were on page three.

That’s right: Mass killings are so commonplace in the United States that they aren’t even front page news anymore.

I don’t fault the editors for their story placement. After all, the old bromides are true: News is what is unusual. We don’t write about the plane that doesn’t crash.

Death by gun is now far from unusual in our blood-drenched nation.

So this is who we have become, although I keep hearing that this is not who we are, that we’re better than this. To which I say, prove it, America.

I wish you would.

Yes, I know, there are many, many people in this country trying to stop the bloodshed. Legislators are legislating. Citizens are organizing.

That’s all great and should continue. But so far, it has done very little to change things. The National Rifle Association has stopped all efforts to make the country safer.

If we want to return to sanity, that means it’s time to stop the NRA.

To me, there is only one way to pull back on the violence, and that is for the members of the National Rifle Association—Donald Trump’s new playmates—who do not think killing children is a good thing to pull out of the organization and take their money with them.

The only people who can effect real change here are NRA members, by becoming non-members.

If it has no money, then the NRA can’t buy Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and its other possessions in Congress.

Make no mistake about it: The NRA is directly responsible for the violence in this country. It is our homegrown version of ISIS and its sociopath president Wayne LaPierre has as much blood on his hands as Osama bin Laden.

I don’t think most of its members believe in the organization’s murderous approach. I think they just want to hunt and shoot targets and protect themselves in a responsible way.

If there are rotten apples in a barrel, it is up to the apples that are not rotten to fix the problem.

So if you belong to the National Rifle Association and think that what happened in Newtown, Conn.—26 people killed at a school—is wrong and that owning high-powered weapons is screwy and are tired of hearing about people being gunned down in movie theaters and at malls and on the streets, then pull out of the NRA.

Do it today. 

Call your fellow gun owners and start a movement. You can call yourselves the Responsible Gun Owners of America. Or come up with your own catchy acronym. How about GOWAN—Gun Owners Who Aren’t Nuts?

If you do this, and dry up the organization’s money, then maybe, just maybe McConnell and his fellow cowards can slither out of the NRA’s pockets and bring about laws in this country that will keep us from being shot in the streets.

And by the way, I feel the same way about any organization that has tainted elements.

• It’s up to the good cops to bring into line the 1 percent of their fellow officers who kill people carelessly.

• Responsible teachers should see to it that teachers who drink on the job or otherwise behave badly are removed from the classroom.

• Anti-abortion activists who really believe in the sanctity of human life should take control of their comrades who want to kill doctors and harm women seeking abortions.

The list goes on, and it is long.

Unfortunately, what we usually get is a circling of the wagons to protect those who are doing the wrong thing. Teachers unions protect bad teachers. Cops protect bad cops. (San Luis Obispo had a police chief last year who essentially said, during the national outbreak of police shootings of African Americans, “Hey, get off the cops’ backs.” Happily, he left town.)

It doesn’t have to be that way. Reasonable people can take charge. I challenge responsible men and women in this county and nationwide who belong to the National Rifle Association to walk away from it. 

Do it today. 

Bob Cuddy lives in Arroyo Grande. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com or send a letter to the editor at letters@newtimesslo.com.

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