Letter to my Dad, an NRA Member: Why I Support a Ban on the Purchase of Assault Weapons

Dear Dad,

It happened again. A troubled kid carried out an unthinkable act — killing his classmates and teachers with a weapon of war.

I remember you said, “I won’t vote for them — they’ll take my guns away.” Since I can’t talk to you, I’ve asked many of the people in my life you would trust most about these military-type weapons.

Uncle Bill said no one should need a weapon like the one he carried in Vietnam just to kill a deer. Your nephew, Franklin — who is still teaching in North Carolina — agreed. Both feel like a ban is absolutely necessary but only part of this puzzle.

Of everything I’ve heard, I think Chipper said it best: “I believe in our Constitutional right to bear arms and protect ourselves. But I do not believe there is any need for civilians to own assault rifles. I just don’t.” I remember the day he was drafted you said he would be in the Hall of Fame one day; you were right, even though you didn’t live to see it.

It’s a different world we are living in today. I’ve done my homework, and I truly believe in my heart that supporting an assault weapons ban — one that prevents the purchase of these weapons of war — is the right thing to do. We cannot continue to permit the sale of a weapon that has been used time and time again to massacre children in their schools and worshipers in their sanctuaries. At the same time, we must also acknowledge that:

  • No ban will fix everything. There is evil in the world, and there always will be.
  • There are conflicting definitions of what constitutes an “assault weapon”.
  • The definition in any assault weapons ban needs to be precise in its wording and responsibly tailored to factor in the concerns of sportsmen.

I think the NRA has changed a lot since you were a member. Responsible gun owners have a place in the future of our country too, but I don’t believe the NRA is representing folks like you anymore. Instead of focusing on safety and education, their leaders are pushing a very specific agenda that I don’t think you’d support.

I write this letter with a heavy heart, hoping you would support my search for an answer through intimate conversation with family and friends, rather than jumping to do the bidding of the extremes or the uninformed.

Owning and operating an assault weapon is a significant responsibility — a responsibility that only a few are prepared for. Earning an Expert Rifle badge with my M16 in the Marine Corps is one of my proudest accomplishments. If any of my fellow Americans want that same experience, they are welcome to it: www.marines.com.

You were right about Chipper, and I hope you think I’m right on this one.

Semper Fi,


.@USMC Veteran. @UnivWestGa and @HarvardHBS alum. Worked at @Twilio, founded Zillabyte. Democratic Candidate for Congress in VA-05.

.@USMC Veteran. @UnivWestGa and @HarvardHBS alum. Worked at @Twilio, founded Zillabyte. Democratic Candidate for Congress in VA-05.