Almanac

Viewpoint - January 2, 2013

Guest opinion: Some heartfelt questions for NRA chief

To Wayne LaPierre, National Rifle Association:

I am still searching for the words to respond to your "response" to the Sandy Hook shootings. I'll try to explain why I am absolutely sickened by it.

I am the father of a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. My daughter attends a K-3 school in a small bedroom community on the edge of Silicon Valley, which in many ways resembles the community of Sandy Hook and Newtown. This week, I attended her first holiday concert; like many other parents, I struggled to keep my composure as I watched the first-grade class which followed my daughter's class, realizing that across the country, 20 kids just like the ones I was watching would never sing Christmas songs again.

I have not spoken with my children about Sandy Hook, for one simple reason: they're children. They don't watch the news, they don't read news on the Internet, and to my knowledge, they have not learned about Sandy Hook from their teachers or classmates. And that, in my opinion, is exactly how it should be: my 5-year-old daughter deserves to live, play and grow without the kinds of fears that this incident is creating for adults, and for older children. One of my duties to my children is to make sure that they get to be children for several more years.

I now see that your entire response to Sandy Hook is — more guns! You are seriously proposing that we put armed guards at the entrance of every school. In other words, rather than consider even modest changes in legislation to restrict access to some firearms (or even large ammo clips), you are proposing, with a straight face, that I walk my 5-year-old daughter past an armed guard every day. I can only assume that you probably think my 3-year-old's preschool should be treated the same way.

Mr. LaPierre, I feel the need to ask: Do you have children? Grandchildren? Do you ever stop and think about the effect your advocacy has on the people of this country? I'm not talking about ending all ownership of guns here; we're talking about limiting assault weapons (which are used only for the killing of many other humans), or large ammunition clips (again, not used for hunting or any other non-lethal purpose), but you've decided that the solution is more guns, and that we now have to expose our youngest children to these guns and to very adult fears rather than limit the rights of even one citizen.

I sincerely hope that I speak for a large number of Americans, including our elected officials, when I say that I think we can do better; that I don't share your vision of America as a police state, where we arm ourselves more and more extensively. I fully understand that gun control will not solve every problem or prevent every shooting, but I believe the best response to the problem of gun violence will involve many tools, including sensible gun legislation. I understand that you have a duty to your backers, the gun makers and a subset of militant gun owners, and that you feel the need to advocate for their interests; I just hope America is better than that, and has the courage to stand up and say "no" to your vision.

Jeff Aalfs Crescent Avenue, Portola Valley

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