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Humanity in America

Uncle Leo, egg salad sandwiches, and the NRA



Something happened to the nation after the murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day.

It stayed awake.

It’s worth talking about.

But first I want to introduce you to my uncle Leo. Jewish, from Brooklyn, liberal; he was a postman, an ex-furrier until he hurt his back and retired to Florida. There, he took up a hobby—guns. He goes to the range, enters contests, makes his own bullets in the garage. Leo is a rarity: a New York Jewish liberal member of the National Rifle Association.

He has had macular degeneration for a decade and, long after he stopped driving, still shoots.

It’s not funny.

It’s hysterical.

You want someone with Leo’s respect for and knowledge of weapons to be packing when someone breaks into your house at three in the morning, if only he wasn’t 95 … if only he wasn’t blind.

I’ve asked him about his membership in the NRA a number of times.

“Barry,” he’d say, “this is the story.”

The story I never could follow, but it had something to do with the insurance the NRA provides to gun ranges and shooters. With membership, you also get your choice of magazine, membership cards, and decals, all of which Leo had no use for—but there was the insurance, which mattered somehow.

Marilyn, his wife and my aunt, fielded the calls.

“They’re always calling for money,” she’d say of the NRA. “Enough already!”

“So, hang up the phone, Marilyn,” Leo would bark. “Why do you talk to them?”

Uncle Leo loves the sport but hates the governing body.

He lives in Delray Beach, about a 25-minute drive to Marjory Stoneman.

To every lying member of the media, to every Hollywood phony, to the role model athletes who use their free speech to alter and undermine what our flag represents … Your time is running out. The clock starts now.’1

That’s Dana Loesch, the NRA spokesperson.

She and Uncle Leo belong to the same organization.

She’s a pustule. He’s an old man hunched over a workbench full of ingots.

After the massacre in Parkland, the NRA offered “thoughts and prayers,” as you’d expect, as it always does, but it was the cynicism of its waiting for the left to grieve itself out that struck me.

Such contempt for the human heart, such smugness. But then a not-so-funny thing happened. The grief and anger stuck around, intensified. The outrage landed some blows. Teenagers, many with dead friends, had had enough. They appeared on television and were articulate, unyielding, and fearless.

This was not the script post-tragedy America is used to. The NRA was at first befuddled by the shelf life of the national anger, by the outpouring of support for these students.

Then it pounced.

Here was NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre.

Speaking at CPAC, the annual arch-conservative gathering, LaPierre accused proponents of gun control of promoting “socialism” in the guise of public health and safety. Behind this “social engineering,” he said, are the billions of dollars donated by “people like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and more.”2

Read the names again. He singled out Jews. This is not your uncle’s NRA. LaPierre let us know it’s not just about guns anymore.

Here was Dana Loesch, after trying to make nice on CNN,3 coming unhinged.

The National Rifle Association’s national spokeswoman argued Thursday that “many in legacy media love mass shootings” during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.4

Here was Dinesh D’Souza tweeting as a group of students from Marjory Stoneman stood in the Florida legislature and watched representatives defeat a measure that would allow discussion—discussion—about an assault weapons ban.

“Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.”5

D’Souza was … just being a dick.

And while a bill to raise the age of owning an AR-15 was raised to 21, a representative from Florida scolded the survivors.

“Do we allow the children to tell us that we should pass a law that says, ‘No homework’? Or ‘You finish high school at the age of 12’ just because they want it so? No.

“The adults make the laws because we have the age. We have the wisdom. And we have the experience to make these laws. We have to make laws with our heads and not with our emotions. Because emotions will lead us astray. However, our common sense and our rationale will not.”6

And here’s what happened in Oklahoma.

A state lawmaker citing extensively from the Bible urged churchgoers and other people of faith to arm themselves against “knuckleheads” and “evil people.” Speaking in favor of the bill, Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, argued that people have both a constitutional and biblical right to defend themselves.

“It clearly states in the Bible to defend ourselves. … Jesus was not a pacifist.”7

Our leaders called for … God knows what.

Constitution tells us we don’t need a license, so I totally support constitutional carry,” said [Oklahoma] gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson, in support of a new bill that views firearm licenses as irrelevant. “Constitutional carry, in my opinion, should be the law of the land.”8

Let’s stop there for a minute.

You want to know what the Constitution says? Good friend of the column Garrett Epps, constitutional law professor at the University of Baltimore and contributing writer for The Atlantic, explains:

To me it suggests that, in adopting what became the Second Amendment, members of Congress were attempting to reassure the states that they could retain their militias and that Congress could not disarm them. Maybe there was a subsidiary right to bear arms; but the militia is the main thing the Constitution revamped, and the militia is what the Amendment talks about.9

Not this:

Crown-wearing worshippers clutching AR-15 rifles drank holy wine and exchanged or renewed wedding vows in a commitment ceremony at a Pennsylvania church on Wednesday, prompting a nearby school to cancel classes. The church, which has a worldwide following, believes the AR-15 symbolizes the “rod of iron” in the book of Revelation and encouraged couples to bring the weapons.10

We sell bullet-proof backpacks in America.11

We’re out of our mind.

We want more guns in more places and in the hands of more of us. After Parkland, the voices on the right gave a giant “F*** you” to those with dead children— and to the dead children themselves.

Uncle Leo shoots targets at a range and then has egg salad sandwiches with his friends at his country club. Others with guns do this:

Kasky isn’t the only teenager getting death threats for activism against the NRA. David Hogg, also 17, has fiercely advocated on television for improved gun control laws in the wake of the mass shooting which left seventeen of his classmates and teachers dead. Over the last week, he has been a central target for conspiracy theorists believing that he is in fact not a student but a “crisis actor.” One video claiming Hogg was an actor got more than 200,000 views and was the top trending video on YouTube before it was taken down.12

The cause is that great, the personal arsenal that important, the membership that revered.

There are parents in Florida wondering how they’re going to make it through summer without their children; the NRA is suing Florida for raising the legal age to own that AR-15 to 21.

It’s not about guns anymore; it’s about humanity.

It’s about ruptured body parts.

From a radiologist who treated Parkland victims:

In a typical handgun injury, which I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ such as the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, gray bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments. I was looking at a CT scan of one of the mass-shooting victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?13

Loesch recently complained about the sanctimony and arrogance of the left.14

Guilty.

But the left’s arrogance and sanctimony didn’t spray bullets at 800 rounds per minute on a school campus—it left 7,000 pairs of shoes outside the U.S. Capitol days later in honor of the children who have been murdered by guns … since 2012.15

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