Polls often reveal that gun owners oppose legislation being pushed by the National Rifle Association (NRA). This is true to a large extent even of gun owners who belong to the NRA. For example, Frank Luntz, who is a Republican pollster and frequent analyst on Fox News, found that 69% of NRA members support closing the loophole that allows buyers at gun shows to circumvent background checks (the figure was 85% for all gun owners). Seventy-eight percent of NRA members support requiring gun owners to report lost and stolen guns (88% of all gun owners). I’m just citing Luntz because he’s a conservative, though of course the NRA disputes his findings; there are other studies that also show that the NRA is too extreme for many of the people it claims to represent.

I used to belong to AAA; my parents bought me a membership when I got my driver’s license, and for many years it was synonymous in my mind with “roadside assistance.” Gradually, as I read the AAA magazine and paid attention to the news, I realized that “the highway lobby,” with which I disagreed on almost all issues, was in fact the better synonym for AAA (see what you can learn if you’re a compulsive reader?). Roadside assistance and those handy little tour books were just a sideline use of our membership funds, while the major use was to pay lobbyists to get Congress to increase highway funding, oppose un-American activities like rails-to-trails conversions, and generally resist any policy that might move us more toward other forms of transportation than the almighty automobile. As soon as I learned that there were other roadside-assistance plans available, I stopped sending my money to AAA.

The NRA is forever hiding behind “responsible gun owners” and “hunters” and implying that anyone who does target shooting, goes deer hunting, or for that matter, keeps a handgun in their home for self-defense, supports their positions. If you are a gun owner, please have a look at what the NRA wants to accomplish, and if you disagree with them, don’t fund them. There are other organizations for gun owners, responsible ones that, unlike the NRA, are not the bane of police departments. Join one of them. (And that gun in your house? Lock it up well. There are kids around.)