After the hateful words by the National Rifle Association, a wave of resignations have begun. This is not the first time such a wave has happened. In 1995, former President George Herbert Walker Bush sent his own letter of resignation to the NRA, in response to then Vice-President Wayne LaPierre’s attacks on Federal workers doing their jobs. The topics and issues he brings up are as relevant today as they were in 1995, in light of the NRA blame-filled conference on Friday, we are reprinting this letter from the first President Bush in its entirety below:
May 3, 1995
Dear Mr. Washington,
I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as “jack-booted thugs.” To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as “wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms” wanting to “attack law abiding citizens” is a vicious slander on good people.
Al Whicher, who served on my [ United States Secret Service ] detail when I was Vice President and President, was killed in Oklahoma City. He was no Nazi. He was a kind man, a loving parent, a man dedicated to serving his country — and serve it well he did.
In 1993, I attended the wake for A.T.F. agent Steve Willis, another dedicated officer who did his duty. I can assure you that this honorable man, killed by weird cultists, was no Nazi.
John Magaw, who used to head the U.S.S.S. and now heads A.T.F., is one of the most principled, decent men I have ever known. He would be the last to condone the kind of illegal behavior your ugly letter charges. The same is true for the F.B.I.’s able Director Louis Freeh. I appointed Mr. Freeh to the Federal Bench. His integrity and honor are beyond question.
Both John Magaw and Judge Freeh were in office when I was President. They both now serve in the current administration. They both have badges. Neither of them would ever give the government’s “go ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law abiding citizens.” (Your words)
I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.’s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.
However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.
You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre’s unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a Life Member of N.R.A., said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list.
[ signed ]
This is how a leader responds to such hate filled rhetoric – they distance themselves while condemning the attacks. One may not agree with President George HW Bush’s politics, but his love of country, and the people who enter into public service for that country, is clear in this letter. The NRA has but one option, to remove LaPierre from his office, and to distance themselves from his decades of hate-filled rhetoric attacking the foundations of this country, the public sector workers who every day devote themselves to making this a better nation. Instead of accepting responsibility for their efforts to give firearms to criminals, the NRA trots out long discredited arguments that video games cause people to go into homicidal rampages. Common sense tells us that there will always be people who will fly in to these fits of rage and homicide, but the difference is that knives can’t kill as easily as a gun.
Unless LaPierre is removed from his office, and his comments disavowed, the NRA will find itself eliminated from the discussion and ignored as gun legislation is introduced in the next legislative session. They have days to do this, not weeks or months, because his words are so far off of mainstream, they have no place in civilized discussion. But hey, he’ll have a bright future on Fox News.