The NRA is not what it used to be

Written by Susan Mannella on .

I must have been about 12 years old when I joined the National Rifle Association. In the basement of the Municipal Auditorium in Charleston, W.Va., I learned to shoot a .22 caliber rifle safely. Proudly, I steadied my hand to qualify as a "sharpshooter."

I still have the medal, but it is tarnished -- tarnished by time but also by what the NRA has become. I want nothing to do with that organization now. The NRA, which taught me about guns, is now a radical organization that advocates the availability of weapons designed to fire multiple rounds rapidly with lethal force. Even police organizations have taken stances against the pervasive distribution of deadly force in the hands of anyone who can beg, borrow, buy or steal the killing device.

Pittsburgh mourns the death of officers Paul J. Sciullo II, Stephen J. Mayhle and Eric G. Kelly while playing host to an organization that ushers in a "guns for all" mentality. As an adjunct college instructor, there are two words in my vocabulary I wish I had never learned, "student shooter." After the Virginia Tech massacre, I was aghast to hear a colleague say guns should be permitted on campus, as if that were the solution.

The Second Amendment right to bear arms is mired in constitutional controversy, but in practicality the Supreme Court has affirmed it and as a culture we have accepted that. The buck head peering over my shoulder as I write means I'm a gun owner, but if gun ownership means what the NRA says it means, I forfeit that right.


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