(Opinion) — I stayed glued to the TV news accounts of the fatal shootings at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last Friday, except to re-read an email that recently arrived in my inbox.

It was a fundraising letter from Dudley Brown, president of the Virginia-based National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), asking me to renew my membership. Which is strange, because as a gun-control advocate I certainly don’t belong to the organization and I’ve never given it a dime. I guess they just flood thousands of strangers with emails with the hope of landing new members and more cash.

But the offensive first paragraph got my blood boiling, which is probably another one of Brown’s goals: completely outrage opponents. “Gun grabbers are still scheming to ‘cash in’ on the grisly work of bloodthirsty madmen by trying to disarm law-abiding gun owners,” Brown wrote.

Given the tragic mass shooting in Colorado Springs that day, and all of the other highly publicized murders our nation has witnessed in recent years, I was in no mood for such nonsense. But I read it anyway, because I couldn’t believe anyone could get away with lying so blatantly to lure gullible opponents of even minor gun restriction laws into sending him a check.

I did a bit of research to learn more about Brown and his nonprofit NAGR. He was born in Wyoming in 1965, raised in South Dakota, but most of his political mischief has taken place in Colorado, where he’s also set up shop as the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO).

Brown has long been a thorn in the side of many Colorado Republicans who owe their election victories to endorsements and campaign checks from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Yes, you read that last sentence right. Brown bills his group as the “conservative alternative” to the NRA, which is the blood enemy of the NAGR. It’s difficult to imagine, but Brown is far to the right of the nation’s largest gun rights organization. He thinks it has capitulated too much with liberal politicians. No, I don’t know what he’s smoking.

The NRA is generally considered one of the most influential groups in Congress, but the NAGR spends twice as much money on lobbying. My apologies to the National Rifle Association. I thought you were the most extreme gun-worshiping group in America, but you pale compared  to the NAGR. Its motto is “no compromise,” and its leader means what he says.

Brown’s group believes the Second Amendment conveys an absolute right for people to own any firearm they desire and openly carry it anywhere they want. Of course one might need some help carrying a nearly six-foot .50-caliber rifle or other military weapons by himself, but Brown says no government has the power to keep citizens from owning them.

“We say, why shouldn’t you be able to have this freedom? Why shouldn’t you be allowed to own a .50-caliber or a machine gun?” Brown asked Denver’s Westword newspaper in 2001, just days after the Sept. 11 attacks. He was sponsoring a “Fun Day” in eastern Colorado demonstrating massive weaponry and the destruction it can cause, apparently to brighten the state’s spirits.

“Common sense” probably doesn’t apply to Brown’s followers, but does anyone actually believe the Second Amendment allows personal ownership of weapons that should only be in the hands of the military?

On the other hand I’ve heard people argue that it’s perfectly OK to hunt using a machine gun, so I guess the answer is yes, they do exist.

What really galls me, though, is that Brown has the audacity to claim “gun grabbers” are trying to “cash in” on mass murders and take away people’s guns. Brown raises funds by shamelessly evoking the deaths of people murdered with assault weapons with 100-round magazines. It’s a lucrative business for him: NAGR raised $16.4 million in 2013, the latest year I could find their tax information.

Brown opposed an NRA-endorsed Colorado bill to increase the limit on magazines from 15 rounds to 30 because he thought it wasn’t nearly enough ammo.

When told by a reporter that Aurora, Colo., movie theater gunman James Holmes had purchased 6,000 rounds leading up to the night he shot dozens of people, killing 12, Brown replied, “I call 6,000 rounds running low.”

I dare Brown to tell his smart-aleck “joke” in person to Aurora survivors and victims’ families. They’d run him out of town on a rail.

Here are more sure moneymakers from Brown’s email:

“The truth is, the stakes couldn’t be higher for Second Amendment supporters than they are right now. After all, the ONLY reason you and I have fought off President Obama’s anti-gun assaults throughout his two terms in office is politicians’ pure FEAR [of] what would happen to them at the ballot box should they dare to cross us.”

Barack Obama is a gun-grabber? Then why did he sign a bill that now makes it legal to carry guns in national parks? In 2012, 72 percent of all enacted gun laws actually loosened restrictions. The truth is there are no more restrictions on gun ownership than before he took office in 2009. Incredibly happy gun manufacturers, though, have made enormous profits from easily hoodwinked gun owners by merely mentioning the president’s name.

Brown’s email continued: “They continue to tout poorly worded polls claiming 90 percent of Americans support new gun control schemes, and say the real test will be in 2016, when voter turnout is likely to be sky-high.”

Numerous professional pollsters have found between 85 and 92 percent of Americans support expanded background checks for private gun purchases. Gun-control measures are winning in states, too. Oregon and Washington prevailed in background check fights this year. Laws to carry concealed weapons without a permit failed in 15 out of 18 states.

Another line from the email: “As Thomas Jefferson stated, ‘The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.’ In other words, freedom dies the moment patriots like you stop fighting.”

That loud noise you just heard was Jefferson and other founding fathers rolling over in their graves. Remember, these guys never saw an AK-47. If they could see what Brown and his ilk are doing in their names, I think they would say in unison, “Have you people lost your minds?”

Brown filled his email with all sorts of bogeymen who want to jump through your window and take all of your guns, leaving you totally defenseless: “One-world globalists” at the United Nations, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, anti-gun billionnaires Michael Bloomberg and George Soros, Congress, the media, gun-free zones, and sell-out Republicans.

He hasn’t forgotten the other major party. “There’s a time to hunt deer,” he told NPR. “And the next election is the time to hunt Democrats.”

To sweeten his deal, Brown said those who renew their NAGR memberships now will have a chance to win a Savage .338 Lapua rifle package valued at $3,792.

Here’s my reply to Dudley Brown:

“Thanks so much for writing to me. You obviously spent a lot of time on your email, and I don’t want you to think it’s not appreciated. You can give my raffle ticket for the rifle package to an actual member of your little club. I can’t join and I never will, but I’ll make this pledge: I’ll donate 1,000 times more to the NAGR than I did last year. Heck, make it a million times more, every year!”

“You don’t have to thank me. It’s the least I can do for my new pen pal.”

— Columns are the signed perspective of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WyoFile’s staff, board of directors or its supporters. WyoFile welcomes guest columns and op-ed pieces from all points of view. If you’d like to write a guest column for WyoFile, please contact WyoFile editor-in-chief Dustin Bleizeffer at dustin@wyofile.com.

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

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  1. On Jan 5, 2016, President Obama moved to close some loopholes in guns sales laws, without proper, and full background checks. Immediately after his address with victims of gun violence at his side during address, the Speak of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan attacked Obama like he did not care one iota for the kids slaughtered at Newtown, Conn, and is just a political animal playing games with People’s lives.
    Some political hacks have exploited the gun issues, and so when we see OPEDS like MOVE Over NRA, should any ask how much blood money do some lobbyist get for gaming Congressman, and Senators who are pawns of the NRA? Really, ask Senators from Wyo, if they care on the over 30,000 gunned down every year by gun violence, and why they act like Parrots for the very misleading NRA lobbyists, and make it an issue in their reelection. Move over NRA is a bit of a misplaced sentiment, given the changing political winds, now taking place in America, all be gun sales are booming.

    Jim Hagood

  2. While some Wyoming legislatures, may not care to examine U S Supreme Court rulings, please take note( hot off the wire services):
    The Supreme Court gave an apparent green light Monday to lawmakers who want to restrict the sale of guns such as the rapid-fire weapons that have been used in the recent wave of mass shootings from Paris to San Bernardino……
    “The court’s decision will encourage gun control advocates to push more cities and states to enact assault weapons bans,” said UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, an expert on gun rights.(source Los Angles Times

    Jim Hagood

  3. Well, i posted up a 14 page report reference on the legal issues surrounding assault rifles.
    It was a reference to a Congressional Research Service Report. Are some assuming nobody in Wyo cares to read legal cases, and the legal issues on the matter. The issue is not the lawful ownership of guns under the 2nd Amendment. Nobody has opposed lawful ownership of guns under the 2nd Amendment– as provided by laws.
    However, the Courts and Congress have treated assault rifles in another category, and the report gave a history on the background on matters. Don’t people deserve public safety in America, those who rail at the Government in America, seemed to be programed like robots.

    Jim Hagood

  4. You know, since I am for gun safety, and therefore I’m for gun control, I really ought to take Dudley Brown’s advice and “cash in” as he says my type does. But how?

    Hmmm… I could buy stock in gun manufacturing companies, I suppose. … Oh, I could also start an email campaign to beg bucks from paranoid gun lovers who prefer to think they live in old wild west movies.

    Naw, I’m not that unscrupulous. I just want gun deaths to be prevented.

    Corryne Drake

  5. I know of a young man who used a gun. An Army Vet who did a front line tour in Afghan.
    He used it on himself. He was one of the most outstanding young men, I have ever seen.
    He never saw his 24th birthday. He was a valued member of the community, I miss him every day.
    Over 89 persons per day in the USA die of gun violence. Over 22 Military Vets take their own life per day.
    Underscore PER DAY.
    Drake is not “ill educated”, he is highly educated. All appreciate that any can get a gun if they are intent on it. But, is that the point.
    The military sales of jets is a massive billion dollar industry, funded by U S taxpayers, with programs to sell billions in Military hardware to Qatar, and other mid EastEast Countries.
    IS there nothing Obama or Congress can do, to stop internet sales (interstate) of 10’s of 1,000’s of AMMO rounds, to a single person in a presto internet sale, the LUCKY GUNNER type of situation. Congress could address that if they were truly educated men who care about life in America, UNDERSCORE CARE. Where is DOC Barrasso of Wyo, does he not care about life in AMERICA, or is he a pawn of the AMMO dealers in Tenn who use the internet to cater to persons who are suspect. Do Gun promoter(s) need 10,000 rounds of AMMO for a high powered assault rifle? For one person? A BIG SALE. NO CHECKS. Do we need a culture were the rich can hire BLACkWAtER protectors, but the rest of society is subject to the increasing frenzy of those who “gun for justice”, for any beef, and direct their blood lust towards innocent kids, or women or other innocent people, in a cult of death. How many in Wyoming use an AK-15, or an AK-47 to hunt Deer?
    I don’t believe Drake is preying on peoples fears. Isn’t praying, a different human endeavor than preying?
    How many ploys will be used by the culture of death crowd, to pander to the gutless U S Senators from WYO in the grips of the AMMO lobby. Doctor Barrasso should be ashamed to call himself an M D.
    who took a oath on healing and serving the health of a society. The issues are not going away.
    I applaud Drake for his raising the issue and pointing out way some game politicians, who need to be confronted with the LUCKY GUNNER abuses.(See above)

    Jim Hagood

  6. Thank you, Jim Hagood, for injecting real facts into this comment thread, and for actually reading Mr. Drake’s column.
    Every argument against gun control is thoroughly refuted by common-sense logic. Yet most commenters simply ignore facts and conscience, repeating myths and nonsense ad nauseam, never allowing facts to penetrate past their sick toy fetishes. It is useless to argue with them, but I really appreciate seeing comments from sensible people like Mr. Hagood. It’s good to know such folks still exist. This country needs more people of conscience like Mr. Drake and Mr. Hagood.

    Corryne Drake

    1. @Corryne Drake

      Re: “ignoring real facts, common sense logic and conscience”

      Please elaborate on what we are ignoring. I’d like to answer but be aware the moderator doesn’t post over half of what I’ve submitted.

      Jim Smith

  7. Over 89 deaths happen per day in
    America from gun violence.
    That is over 32,000 per year.
    It is such concern 2,000 doctors
    recently petitioned Congress, to
    remove the ban on research in
    this area.
    Who imposed a ban on
    such research over the years?
    Wake up America

    Jim Hagood

    1. @Jim

      Re: “remove the ban on research in
      this area.”

      There is not a ban on research but there is a ban on advocacy for gun control. Specifically the law states “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control”. An example of this “advocacy” that lead to this restriction is in the 1994 American Medical News interview with Dr. Katherine Christoffel, head of the “Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan”, a CDC-funded organization who said: “guns are a virus that must be eradicated… They are causing an epidemic of death by gunshot, which should be treated like any epidemic…you get rid of the virus…get rid of the guns, get rid of the bullets, and you get rid of deaths.” Another example is from the then head of the CDC – Mark Rosenberg – “We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like we did with cigarettes. Now it [sic] is dirty, deadly and banned.”

      Jim Smith

  8. Just for your information, Black Friday,(Nov 2015) hit a record for gun sales in the USA.
    Gun sales in America have been booming for the last several years. And, Ammo sales are going gang buster from on-line sellers, who will sell 1,000’s of round over the Internet.(PRESTO) To say, that America(OUTLETS) are the Arms traders of the world is an understatement, ARMS in small personal fire-arms and Arms like in F-16s, and military sales, like billions in military jet sales to assorted MidEast countries, etc.
    Respect for life, is the point I took from Drake’s piece, despite the frenzy of the gun culture

    Jim Hagood

    1. Re: “Respect for life, is the point I took from Drake’s piece, despite the frenzy of the gun culture”

      The problem you have is that in 2010 (for example) there were 725000 violent criminals in state prisons and 15000 in federal prisons. This works out to a total of 740000 or about 0.238% of the US population which means that about 1 out of every 420 people in the US that have been caught have no qualms about ignoring whatever laws you pass and killing or injuring someone and the gun is often their tool of choice. So the bottom line is (1) The human race produces a few bad individuals prone to violence who just refuse to play by whatever rules you promulgate and until you find some way to identify these individuals and the courage to permanently eliminate them from society, innocent people are going to be killed (2) Because of these bad individuals, bad things happen every day to people who through no fault of their own were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Criminals will always have guns if they want them. If worst comes to worst they will be smuggled into the US from Mexico inside a bale of marijuana and sold on the black market.

      Jim Smith

  9. Some here purport to attribute some belief to Mr Drake. Obviously, in Chicago, and other places, where gun linked murders are by felons, or those who could care less, what the law provides, there are gangs that are at the heart of much violence. I never read anything that Mr Drake noted as being against the 2nd Amendment.
    The 2nd Amendment does not allow a felon to carry a gun in the USA, in most instances, or States.
    Obviously, criminals can get ahold of guns. But, still in the USA there are laws, but is it that some rather they not be enforced?
    It is not easy being a cop in today’s America. Many applaud the brave law enforcement people, like those in Colo Springs, who had to confront yet another, crazed gunner, out to inflict vast harm on society, and kill people on a wild spree. God Bless, the good cop, who put their life on the line every week. Most cops are good cops. Those that are not, are facing the laws too, like in Chicago, & Baltimore. It is not a fantasy the vast number gun murders in the USA, but some used tired old political slogans to obscure relevant issues.
    Granted in some places, people have concerns that law enforcement provides adequate protections.
    Thus, a law abiding citizen can own a gun, if he(she ) abides by the law. And, of course, they can go antelope or pheasant hunting, a tradition that has deep roots for hundreds of years in America.
    Granted the wild West is something that some long for, but do they reside just where?
    They badly miss the point of Mr Drake’s piece, and just revert to the slogans that address very little
    of substance in the problems that America now faces — real time

    Jim Hagood

  10. Clearly Mr. Drake believes that making something illegal will prevent an individual with criminal intent from being able to posses it. He must believe the laws against possession and use of dangerous drugs have ended the problems with drug addiction rather than proving that making something illegal only controls the actions of those who respect the law. Were Mr. Drake and his Liberal friends able to pass the laws they want, they would find their fantasy world far more dangerous than today’s as the only armed people would be the criminals and terrorists. Did France’s draconian anti-gun laws prevent terrorist attacks with illegal firearms?

    Dave Gill

  11. Re: “Numerous professional pollsters have found between 85 and 92 percent of Americans support expanded background checks for private gun purchases.”

    These polls where large numbers of people support background checks ask questions like “Do you favor or oppose a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gunbuyers “? That is not the same question that is relevant with regard to the laws that are actually proposed like the federal gun legislation that failed to pass the US Senate in 2013. The relevant poll question in that case would have been “do you support or oppose US Senate Bill 649 or any of its amendments”? Read the bill (SB-649) and the amendments. The title of the bill is word doctored to be innocuous but the devil is in the details and what was being proposed as part of the background check process was a litany of vague, abstruse and onerous restrictions on friends and family members that could trip them up and subject them to intimidation and entrapment by overzealous and unscrupulous authorities who are aligned with an anti-gun agenda. In addition, the hastily written Toomey amendment was worded in such a way that existing gun laws that currently protect gun owners (like a prohibiting a registry) could be circumvented by the President simply having the BATF report to DHS instead of the Attorney General.

    If the totality of what is really desired is universal background checks, the answer is simple and easy – give anyone free, anonymous, public access to the federal NICS background check database of persons prohibited from owning firearms and then tell private sellers if you sell or give a firearm to someone and don’t retain a piece of paper that documents you did a favorable NICS check on the buyer, you could be held liable if they commit a gun-related crime. There is no reason to get the government involved any further in the process unless you have other goals in mind like a federal registry of all firearms.

    Jim Smith

  12. Re: “Barack Obama is a gun-grabber? Then why did he sign a bill that now makes it legal to carry guns in national parks?”

    Because it was attached to a bill that had other things he wanted.

    Jim Smith

  13. “On the other hand I’ve heard people argue that it’s perfectly OK to hunt using a machine gun”

    If it wasn’t for their lies and distortions the gun-grabbers would have nothing to say at all.

    jack burton

  14. Re: “common sense”

    In 1934, 1938, 1968, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1994 I suspect similar arguments were made for “common sense” when more restrictive federal gun laws were passed. Since all of the regulations derived from these laws are apparently not enough, maybe you can understand the reluctance of gun owners to entertain the idea of quietly accepting the any more. The problem is the real agenda of the people leading the charge for more gun control is to ban all guns except for the government and governments (unlike individuals) have the track record for killing people that don’t agree with them. This is really just about using relatively infrequent, isolated incidents of gun violence to whip lawmakers into an emotional frenzy to goad them into quickly advancing the agenda of gun control irrespective of any facts in more incremental “progressive” steps in order to set a new baseline and move the goal posts to the point where an unscrupulous government would have the option to do what ever they please.

    Jim Smith

  15. Re: “does anyone actually believe the Second Amendment allows personal ownership of weapons that should only be in the hands of the military?”

    In the 1700’s when it came to arms that could be carried (pistols, rifles and shotguns) the militia carried the same firearms as the regulars and I can’t find anything that says there was a disparity in capabilities between the regulars and the citizen militia. For instance, I’ve never seen it said that the regulars could carry 30 lead balls but the militia could only carry 15. In addition, some say the militia had better capabilities than the regulars did because many militia members had Kentucky rifles. Also the preamble to the Bill of Rights states – “The convention of a number of states having at the time of their adopting of the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse, of its powers that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added”. If there were a disparity in capabilities, it would be pretty hard to prevent a “misconstruction or abuse, of its powers”. So in reality, the citizen militia of today should have the same firearms as the current US military. Unfortunately we are no longer equally matched because we have let our gun rights be eroded by buying into this notion if we just compromise to accommodate the people who – for whatever reason – don’t like guns they will quit trying to take away our gun rights. History has shown that no matter how much we compromise, it’s never enough so we need to stop compromising.

    Jim Smith

  16. The parents of a young woman killed in the Aurora theater shooting sued the On-line ammo dealer that sold -mass murderer Holmes 4,000 rounds of ammo. over an I- net purchase. A federal District Judge in Denver awarded over $ 200,000 in attorney fees against the parents of their slain daughter to pay the attorneys of Lucky Gunner. a mass ammo on-ine Dealer/ shipper of ammo all over the USA, from Tenn.
    Google the all on this outrage. How many dead bodies must pile up on the front range, fed by
    cyber buzz, of WYO-drifters, like Brown, who has been very adept at controlling gun politics in
    COLO — Not only the politics but the COLO political hacks.
    One victim in the Colo Springs shooting(at the P-H clinic) was an Iraq war Vet, another victim, the Police Officer, was an Olympic Skater.

    Jim Hagood

  17. Like most ill-educated progressives, the author wishes to apply added governmental controls to an object when this is clearly a human behavioural problem. Material solution never in history have solved human issues. Ever.
    Humans have found methods to kill one another in large numbers long before the advent of firearms, explosives or any other industrial age tools invention.
    His abduction of events does well suited his agenda of ever expanding government control over the lives of citizens…as long as that government’s agenda matches his, of course. Shame on him for praying on people’s fears by once again politicizing a horrible tragedy.

    Paul Miner