I’m a Gun Owner, and I’ve Had Enough of “Thoughts and Prayers”
Our series “The NRA Doesn’t Speak for Me” highlights the voices and stories of responsible gun owners across the country advocating for gun safety.
I’m a proud gun owner.
One of my most treasured possessions is a .25-caliber Beretta pistol that my dad gave me before he died. He was a war hero who flew P-38s in North Africa in the early days of WW-II; the Beretta was from a captured Italian officer.
I’m also a conservative guy. I voted Republican in every election from 1964 when Barry Goldwater was the nominee until 2016. While I’m a staunch advocate of our constitutional right to own guns, I also adamantly believe that gun ownership carries with it an equal requirement for gun owners to act responsibly. Most of the gun owners I know support commonsense policies to prevent gun violence, but the voices of a few extremists drown out the rest of us.
The gun lobby’s campaign of fear and division puts gun manufacturer profits over public safety. We have them on the defensive—and we’re not letting up.
I’ve had enough of radical organizations like the NRA putting words in our mouths. The NRA represents gun manufacturers, so it’s in their best interest to sell as many guns to as many people as they can, no matter the consequences. But the consequences are far too great to keep ignoring them.
Over the years, like so many others, I grew increasingly dismayed by the rising tide of gun violence—especially the school shootings, since as an architect, my practice designed scores of new schools for Texas kids. My dismay sadly turned to despair after the list of mass shootings continued to climb upwards.
After the shooting at Santa Fe High School in 2018, Texas’s lieutenant governor suggested that fewer doors could prevent school shootings, saying: “We may have to look at the design of our schools moving forward and retrofitting schools that are already built. And what I mean by that is there are too many entrances and too many exits to our more than 8,000 campuses in Texas.”
The despair I initially felt turned finally to anger—anger at our elected officials who were quick to offer their “thoughts and prayers,” but who never, ever, asserted their leadership to curb the gun violence epidemic.
The absolute last straw in my book was a media report about an extremist radio host in Austin, Texas, who spread the heinous lie that the mass murder of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary was faked—that it was “staged” by actors. That baseless conspiracy theory was a disgrace to the memory of those innocent children and the brave teachers who were slaughtered alongside them, and a searing affront to their broken-hearted parents.
I’ve had enough of radical organizations like the NRA putting words in our mouths.
That was enough to push me into activism—to do whatever I could to stop the madness. In the time since, I’ve written and called my state and national representatives; I’ve lobbied our Texas legislators via Zoom; I’ve had a letter-to-the-editor published in the Dallas News; I’ve made my feelings clear to my friends and my large extended family; and I’ve become active in the Giffords network for responsible gun ownership, an organization founded in the wake of Sandy Hook.
In the face of this crisis, my activism gives me a sense of purpose. I too can make a difference—without having to surrender my identity as a gun owner. Our elected officials were put into office to lead, and that’s what I’m asking them to do. Rather than blaming the design of a building for preventable massacres, it’s time for politicians to give us commonsense leadership that will curb gun violence while also protecting my rights as a responsible gun owner.
STAND UP FOR SAFETY
Americans are not as divided as it may seem. Join Giffords Gun Owners for Safety to stand in support of responsible gun ownership. We’ll share ways to connect with fellow gun owners and support our fight for a safer America.