Debate Gun Violence With Facts

By David A. Keene

NRA President David A. Keene recounts his children have received threats after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. / Evan Vucci, AP
NRA President David A. Keene recounts his children have received threats after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. / Evan Vucci, AP
National Rifle Association
National Rifle Association

FAIRFAX, Va. –-( Almost 50 years ago, as a University of Wisconsin undergrad, I was asked to debate our involvement in Vietnam before a student audience.

My opponent was a member of the Madison City Council and a self-described leftist who spent most of his time denouncing conservatives as racists and enemies of individual liberty and freedom of speech.

I spoke first and, as my opponent made his way to the microphone, he announced that he wouldn’t dignify my arguments with a rebuttal other than to say that “come the revolution,” he looked forward to my being put up against a wall and shot. The subsequent standing ovation was quite an endorsement of the value of civil discourse.

At about the same time, a group of UW students decided to start an alternative conservative newspaper. Reaction came in the form of threats to toss a Molotov cocktail into the paper’s office, an idea that couldn’t be dismissed on our turbulent campus.

Threats Don’t Convince.
These events weighed on my mind as the NRA braced for a firestorm of hatred in the days after the horrific mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. A university professor suggested that NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre be beheaded so that the more thoughtful among us could display his “head on a stick.”

People who should know better told the NRA’s receptionist that we were “responsible” for the actions of the lunatic who killed 20 schoolchildren.

Someone posted on my son’s Facebook page that I ought to be killed. When my son and his sister posted in response that that they were not me and that, in any event, they consider me an OK guy whom they don’t really want killed, the response was swift: The man suggested that perhaps it would be better that they be killed, “so that your dad can suffer the loss of his children.” Nice.

I have wondered over the years at the intolerance of the political left. If those of us on the right were to engage in such over-the-top rhetoric, we would be rightly attacked by the news media and justifiably marginalized. Column after column would be written about how people like us are a danger to civil society because we reject the rules that allow such a society to function without violence. Too many establishment liberals not only mock conservative ideas, but also see those who hold them as either marginally deranged or, as a Homeland Security report suggested a few years ago, as potential terrorists.

The “gun question” has always sparked heated debate between those of us who believe in the constitutional right “to keep and bear arms” and those who disagree. It’s a legitimate debate, one the NRA welcomes.

Fortunately, facts matter to the millions of Americans who – whether they own firearms or not – aren’t so easily convinced that we would be living happy lives in a violence-free utopia if we could just ban guns.

Protect Honest Americans
Americans are a practical people and, in the wake of a tragedy such as Newtown, they want answers. We want to know how we can prevent the next such tragedy, how we can protect our children, and in seeking answers to those questions Americans want facts, not feel-good measures that have never worked in the past and aren’t going to work in the future. That’s why the NRA and its members are willing to discuss the role of firearms in these tragedies: We realize, as our virulent opposition does not, that the facts and statistics are clear. Restricting firearms sales to honest, law abiding American citizens will do little to prevent violence and much to undermine the core values of a free society.

David A. Keene is president of the National Rifle Association of America.

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. Four million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and to advocate enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military. Visit:

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I laugh at the link from 2008. Obama is elected now. He doesn't need to do what he promised anymore. He doesn't have to worry about reelection so he can show his true, anti-gun, colors. Don't be fooled by his election rhetoric. That was only to get him reelected. You will see the true Obama now.

George Washington

No More Massacres – So you believe the liberal rad Fact Check? I learned long ago, don't believe everything you read. Obama is as anti-gun as they get. Go spew your drivel over at HuffPo.


Obama has always voted anti-gun and has already said that he supported a complete ban. Some people don't know much about Obama, but voted for him anyway. Liberals are real quick to take Violent action, so it's not peace that they are after. The 2nd Amendment is here to stay.

Rick Freese

Americans, both coneservative and liberal and of which I am neither, that guns don't don't kill. People with sick twisted minds that have severe mental health issue are the ones that commit mass murders. The problem is the health and mental health support systems in this country are third world. We don't take the time to understand and do something about the mentally deranged individuals. We should all be thing how can we fix the xyxtem so tha we can recognize when someone is about to snap and do something about it. Because let's face it, outlawing guns will never… Read more »

Molon Labe

They don't want that! The Huffington Post are censoring all comment post from anti-NRA articles, those very few pro-NRA articles are not censored and all kinds of negative talk are allowed.

No More Massacres

"That’s why the NRA and its members are willing to discuss the role of firearms in these tragedies: We realize, as our virulent opposition does not, that the facts and statistics are clear." Then why not display both sides of your argument in the comments?

No More Massacres

Speaking of debating gun violence with facts, check your facts on Obama and gun control. "(The NRA) falsely claims in mailers and TV ads that Obama plans to ban handguns, hunting ammo and use of a gun for home defense."

The Eagle Has Died

Gun grabbers don't listen to facts. Confiscation is about people control, not gun control. Arguing is a waste of time. There are no good arguments against the 2nd Amendment. Argue with a pig and you both get dirty and the pig likes it. Feinstein is the pig. Buck up patriots and steel yourselves.