By Vance Ewing
I just read an impassioned article from the Hollywood Reporter written by Tom Arnold. Tom was sincere as he spoke of his nephew, Spencer, who had committed suicide. My prayers do go out to his family as they sift through their loss and pain. However, the tone of the article shifted from helping people understand suicide to an attack of the National Rifle Associate (NRA) and firearms. I understand people want to blame someone for their loss and pain when a loved one commits suicide. Please believe me when I say I’m not attacking Tom, I just disagree with some of his statements.
Tom grew up in a gun culture, even taking some NRA-sponsored rifle range safety training at age five, which he stated he quit. He stated, “The NRA in 1964 is different than the NRA of today.” His attack on the NRA continued with a statement about how Congress “kowtows” to the NRA as do “a lot of my fellow Americans.” The NRA that I belong to, the only NRA, teaches not just the knowledge and skill needed to own firearms, they have whole sections that talk about the right attitude for firearm ownership.
Mr. Arnold also talked about shoring up gun laws. He wants laws that prevent gun ownership for domestic abusers, violent felons, or people on the terrorist watch list, and background checks for everybody. The thing is, Tom, those laws already exist. I agree that gun shows need to have background checks. In fact, whenever I sell at a gun show (which isn’t often), I ensure we do background checks by calling the check back to my store. Tom, I think your fight against the NRA and guns should be redirected to the fight against the mental illness that leaves people without hope. Start with understanding that the fight isn’t against the tools people use to end their lives, but is against the depression that overwhelms the will to live. That’s the fight we must embrace, that’s the fight we need to understand. That’s the fight we need to win.
Vance Ewing spent 22 years in the US Army and eight years as a NATO Counter-IED and Anti-Terrorism Instructor. Vance currently serves as a NRA Counselor and Trainer. Michael Ryen spent eight years in the US Army Reserves and currently serves as a NRA Trainer and recruiter. They are the owners of The Bow and Barrel Sportsmen Center located at 22940 Harlan Lane, Saint Robert, Missouri. www.bowandbarrelsports.com, 573-451-2129