I’ve made it a practice over the years not to use this space to deal with reader comments about previous “SECOND THOUGHTS” – good or bad. In doing so now, I’m breaking that practice because someone has made a very important comment on the last column. One you should hear. The value I’ll leave to you.

The gist of my comments a few days ago following the Colorado massacre was that the entire NRA is not a bad organization – that most of the membership is much more responsible than crackpot leader CEO Wayne LaPierre and those at the top who’ve covered his butt for years. I also took some members of Congress to task for being afraid of LaPierre who – given many of his public comments – has departed from reality and now lives in a world of anti-gun conspiracies and devils the rest of us can’t see.

It was that congressional part the knowledgeable reader commented on, based on first-hand experience. The posted thought was this: responsible members of the public – voters like you and me – have not stepped up to give “cover” to those members of Congress who do tell the NRA to go to Hell. When someone has cast a vote opposing some outrageous demand by the NRA, that person has often been quickly turned out of office for voting his/her conscience when he/she felt opposing was the right thing to do.

That’s a very valid criticism for all of us, especially if you feel your member of Congress is otherwise doing the job you sent him/her to do and want to keep him/her there. I personally know a couple of Northwest members of Congress who don’t buy the entire NRA line and who do have policy differences. I also know – personally – neither has cast a vote opposing NRA positions they thought were wrong because they were thinking of the next election and felt alone out there on that limb.

Now you might say, “Well, they need the courage of their convictions to vote for what they think is right no matter the cost. That’s why we sent them back there.” That certainly would be appropriate. In a perfect world.

But politics is not conducted in a “perfect world.” I think many members do cast a majority of votes in line with personal philosophy and a sense of right and wrong. But the most common definition of politics is “it’s the art of the possible” meaning compromise and often trading your support for someone else’s position because you’ll someday ask them to do the same.

There’s also the personal and possibly family economic considerations. A single vote of conscience could mean an end to your career, being forced to sell your home and dislocate a family a couple of thousand miles. A single vote. We who don’t carry that little plastic voting card members of the House are issued don’t often think of those kinds of things. We can intellectually argue those should not be factors in a decision affecting national policy. But they are. Often. Because those folks are human, too.

What the reader was saying is you and I share some responsibility to oppose LaPierre and the more lunatic gun policies he advances by directly offering our members of Congress who DO stand up for what’s right more support at the polls. Some “cover,” as it were. And I agree.

Machine guns and other automatic weapons don’t belong on our streets. Or in our homes. Neither do ammunition clips that hold 20-100 bullets. There is no legitimate private need for such equipment. None. But when LaPierre and his mad supporters shout “gun control” at the top of their sick lungs, they create an immediate, cohesive and nationwide response which gets the attention of every member of Congress. Can you say we create “an immediate, cohesive and nationwide” response supporting that member of Congress at the polls at the next election? Well, we don’t.

You and I – and even responsible gun owners – can shout vile epithets when the NRA scores a victory over some dangerous, senseless issue in Congress. But do we back up our anger by supporting our representative when he/she votes against some of the more egregious and senseless NRA demands?

Often our most pressing national issues are viewed depending on what hat we wear. Whether a voter or a member of congress wanting to do the right thing, we see issues through our own personal prisms and our responses are limited to what we alone see. Standing up for someone who stands up for the right thing to do takes seeing the entire issue through more than our normal view.

Putting a foot on the neck of LaPierre and his mad cronies is largely beyond the reach of most of us. But it can be done in Congress. If we’ll do our part by demanding action. Then supporting those that do what needs to be done.

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