Why George Bush, Sr resigned his lifetime NRA membership

Here's ex-president George HW Bush's public letter of resignation from the his lifetime membership to NRA, sent after Wayne "Armed guards in schools" LaPierre gave a speech blaming gun laws for the Oklahoma City bombing, implying that the victims were "jack-booted thugs" "wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms."

Al Whicher, who served on my [ United States Secret Service ] detail when I was Vice President and President, was killed in Oklahoma City. He was no Nazi. He was a kind man, a loving parent, a man dedicated to serving his country -- and serve it well he did...

...I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.'s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.

However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.

Letter of Resignation Sent By Bush to Rifle Association (via Reddit)


  1. I must admit, I do respect Bush Sr for this stance, especially so soon after coming out of a hospital for a heart condition.

          1. The same sentence makes a reference to recent events — in fact, mentions those first — and since I don’t follow the NRA’s activities on a daily basis, I thought it entirely plausible that LaPierre had just recently decided to draw some sort of parallel between OK City and Sandy Hook.

        1.  So do I–  I just looked up a shooting in Oklahoma City, then looked in the comments when I didn’t find anything in the news.  I’m pretty sure I won’t remember something like that from the year I was born.

    1.  The more I learn about HW, the more I respect him. Since I am a flaming liberal progressive, we obviously don’t agree on politics, but I do respect him as a person. The Shrub, on the other hand….less than shit on my shoe.

    1. Sway human decency? That will never happen. There is a reason society collectively agrees on laws & protections & why when you let some slip, you end up with chaos.

      The vast majority of gun owners who deny assault weapons—and please do not tell me an AR-15 is not one unless it is fully auto; conversions are trivial at best—are a problem in the U.S. truly don’t get it. It’s the same as the social welfare & healthcare debate. These folks are truly selfish mouth breathers.

      The NRA represents an industry that would not have a market if citizens were limited to owning just one gun. Owners of multiple guns don’t see themselves as the “cattle” that the gun industry sees them as. They believe this is about “rights” and “freedoms” when this is really about market share & profits. Nothing more & nothing less.

      1. Good words.  This issue with the NRA and gun rights is a bellweather for our general lack of control on corporations in the USA.  Companies have free reign, currently, and until they are roped in and made to submit to the citizenry, more and more bs like that from  the NRA will continue to issue forth like shit-smelling lava.  That’s the real issue at the heart of all of this: corporate culture. IOW, the few enslaving the many.

      2. “The NRA represents an industry that would not have a market if citizens were limited to owning just one gun.”

        Just imagine the boon for the justice department if we could eliminate copyright infringement on the Internet. All we’d have to do is ban general-purpose computers for anyone who doesn’t have an Information Technology license!

    2. The NRA doesn’t really represent the rank and file members anymore. The bulk of their activity these days is funded and controlled by arms manufacturers. Expecting them to behave in any fashion that reflects human decency is like asking a drug dealer to cut off customers who are dangerously close to becoming addicted.

      The reason anyone still belongs to the organization as a member is mostly fear-driven. People really feel like the NRA is necessary to protect the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment, and maybe it is. Of course, we should probably start to question the utility of the 2nd Amendment in a modern context (“well-regulated militia” certainly does not describe any gun owners in this country today).

      It’s a kind of blind dogmatism that binds modern Americans to their guns. No one is really thinking about it anymore. As a tool for national defense, personal gun ownership represents a kind of Ramboesque masturbation power fantasy with a rifle much more so than any kind of real deterrent against invasion. As a tool for defending democracy from a corrupt government it’s laughable at best, and anyone who thinks their basement-modified AR-15 is an effective weapon of civil war is basically lining up to get shot by a remote controlled plane (probably one manufactured by an NRA-sponsoring company). As a tool for crime prevention gun ownership is basically a cowardly form of surrender and an admission that you can’t imagine a better way to solve the problems which contribute to crime in the first place (or that you simply don’t care about crime prevention so long as you can take care of you and yours).

      1. As a tool for defending democracy from a corrupt government it’s laughable at best, and anyone who thinks their basement-modified AR-15 is an effective weapon of civil war is basically lining up to get shot by a remote controlled plane

        I am really on the fence on this one. Your point is irrefutable, but then again the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan is doing a hell of a job fighting the US military, and the AK-47 is a staple of their armaments.

        As a tool for crime prevention gun ownership is basically a cowardly form of surrender and an admission that you can’t imagine a better way to solve the problems

        This is a logical fallacy that I would call “binary thinking”. The two options you present are not mutually exclusive. A person can have a gun for defense and simultaneously be working on “better” ways to solve the problems.

        1. It would be a hell of a fight, the armed resistance of US citizens (probably a bunch of us ill-trained liberals) against drones and Republican neo-NRA-sheeple.  It would take a lot of lives, but you are right that it could be done.  

        2. You forget that in a rebellion in the US, unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military doesn’t have any place to leave to. Not to mention that the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan had plenty of heavy weaponry just laying around before the US got there.

          An armed uprising succeeding in the US pure fantasy.

          1. I’d think that the heavy weaponry would actually be the easier to counter, being much harder to hide when not in use, and much harder to protect from counterbattery fire or air strikes.

            But while, as you rightly point out, the US military doesn’t have anywhere to go to if the conflict is taking place in the US, it might also, in whole or in part, find its members much less willing to shoot fellow USians. Maybe some would even join the insurgents.

        3. One hardly needs the right to bear arms on the grounds of ‘resistance to state-tyrrany’. Regardless of any effectiveness of individual arms against any such corrupt state, the very nature of your resistance to it already – presumably – makes you an outlaw. If you need guns, you’ll get ’em. Fretting over your lack of constitutional rights to do so will not, then, be uppermost in your mind.

      2. I like all of what you wrote, except the last part.  It’s no cowardly act if I blow a hole in an armed intruder in my house.  Now, if it’s just Karen from down the street stopping in to drop off some stuff thinking no one’s home and getting herself a glass of water from the sink and I kill her, then I’m the big asshole.  But if it’s really an armed intruder bent on doing me harm, hell, I ain’t no coward for facing that jerk down and blowing his head off.  That’s called self-defense and I’m going to do it.  The rest of what you wrote is sensible and true.  The last part is you going over the falls.

        1. Where do you live? Whenever I read people making these big claims about how they have to defend their family from armed intruders, I wonder what their neighborhood is actually like.

          I live on the south side of Chicago, and have for many decades.  I don’t own a gun.  Research shows our family is significantly safer without one in our home.  We have never have had a single moment in our neighborhood when we felt a gun would have made us safer, either in our home or on the street.

          Meanwhile, my extended family is filled with avid gun owners — very responsible ones — but the relatives who own these guns live on ranches out West or in other very rural areas.  You need a rifle with you when you’re out there, for coyotes, wolves, bear, etc.

          There are legitimate reasons for wanting to own a gun, or two, or three.  But how many people really face the scenarios we see on TV cop shows every night?  Having to defend your home with a gun really isn’t all that likely, now is it?

          1. You need a rifle with you when you’re out there, for coyotes, wolves, bear, etc.

            No, you don’t. You might need one to defend your livestock from predators (including your neighbors’ dogs), but a gun is no more likely to thwart a credible, immediate threat to your own life in a rural or wild area than in an urban one.

            You’d never know it from movies, cable TV and fairy tales, but domestic animals and stinging/biting invertebrates are responsible for far more human deaths in the U.S. than all the big, scary wild critters combined.


          2. You know, I’m not saying that one should be paranoid about bear attacks, but I lived several winters in the mountains on a street that had a 700 pound bear (one that was making international headlines, btw) breaking into houses. Now, it was a black bear and they’re not particularly aggressive, but “not particularly aggressive” does not mean they’re pushovers, especially if you come across them in an enclosed space. Considering all that? I wasn’t too bothered by the fact that my landlords (I was house sitting) had a shotgun in the closet.

            ETA: Antinous : this was a bear that ignored cars, car horns, and walked away from being shot in the face.

          3. Shane: Rabies isn’t a credible, immediate threat to your life. Exposure is relatively rare, and vaccines are extremely effective if administered promptly. Raccoons, skunks, and bats are the main vectors, not the aforementioned big, scary wild critters. You’re far more likely to encounter a rabid animal in your own home, yard, or neighborhood than in some scary wild place.

          4. About 4 years ago when I lived near Durham, NC there was a home invasion every night on the evening news for at least a month straight.  Few people were hurt, but it didn’t change the fact people were becoming increasingly frightened.  Things certainly slowed down on that front when an intruder was killed by the home owner with a 12 gauge shotgun.

            Home robberies happen around where I live now in spurts, maybe 3 over the course of a month and then nothing for a few months.  Most happen during the day time when people are at work.

          5. Going by what you hear on the news is a sure way to get yourself all worked up. That’s why the news exists, to get you worked up. That’s what they’re selling, and I call it “the myth of the dangerous stranger”.

            I go by first hand accounts, which can extend to a friend of a friend of a friend type things. I lived in the hood in NYC for 8 years (4th & B in Manhattan in the 90s, before gentrification), and in the hood in San Francisco for the next 10 years (6th Street and the Bayview), and I’ve never once needed a gun, nor have any of the people I’ve known who have lived there, nor have any of their friends. 

            But of course if we had gone by news accounts we’d all be armed to the teeth.

          6.  Were they separate incidents or the same one reported on nightly? Even if it was new incidents it was likely the same perpetrator (s) and ended because one of them was shot.

            Still doesn’t make it a statistical liklihood, and when the statistical liklihood of being shot by your own gun is higher, I’d go with not having the gun.

          7.  @boingboing-60c530d611f7017ba51093527ac1ee3d:disqus

            Well I do tend to think that the news spins things, those were pretty clear cut facts.  I’m pretty sure interviews with the people who’s homes were invaded is first hand enough for me.


            There were separate incidents, usually 5+ times a week.  From the accounts (or at least what I can remember) and descriptions of the intruders it is likely there were at least 3 different groups doing it.  Or possibly two with different accomplices.

          8. @ bcsizemo:  I’m not saying break ins don’t happen, but that a) just because they happen doesn’t mean its likely to happen to you, and b) even if it does happen to you, a gun isn’t in any way guaranteed to save you, and in fact according to the same news reports is much more likely to escalate a robbery or mugging to a life and death situation, and you’re not in any way guaranteed to wind up on the living side of that equation.

            And furthermore, the price you pay for having that gun in increased fear and paranoia, and risk of an accident makes it far too karmically expensive in my opinion.

            And besides, of all industries, I can think of none more deserving of a boycott than the gun industry.

  2. Cue Doonesbury’s Sunday strip apologizing for dishing on Bush I, back in the day, after Bush II showed his father to be prudent, informed, forgiving…

      1. GHW Bush was a pretty interesting candidate, before he mortgaged his soul to be VP, and remortgaged it to get the Presidency.

    1. But you will notice LaPierre made no mention of who is going to pay for the salaries, training and equipping of all these armed guards.  Schools are having to lay off teachers as it is…

      1. No, you obviously don’t get it.  The armed guards ARE the teachers.  They want our kids babysat by rent-a-cops.  Forget all these old ladies and fresh-faced college kids.  The NRA wants smelly guys in fatigues taking care of the children.

      2. None of that matters. He’s just strategizing and drawing a (ultimately negotiable) line in the sand for the legislative battles over this topic that will occur over the next year.

    2. Senator Barbara Boxer proposed putting more Police and also National Guard troops into schools on Wednesday, 2 days before the NRA press conference.  As she is a Democrat from California, nobody freaked out about the idea of putting armed troops in with children.

      “National Guard troops could be used to support local law enforcement agencies in protecting our children at schools. This could take the form of additional guards at school as well as capital improvements such as strengthening the perimeters of the school and safety procedures,”

        1. And armed officer (a deputy sheriff I think) at Columbine did in fact fire at the perps and that perhaps allowed one of the wounded students to escape with their life.

          Teachers and staff have laid down their lives in some of these cases trying to disarm the perps with just their own bodies. Similarly 2 people tried to use a chair and a table, respectively, at Ft. Hood. Had they been armed, even with a taser, fewer lives might have been lost.

      1. So basically, everyone is the enemy?  Well, except for the kids…  unless they might have guns…  or they are illegal immigrants?

        So, given we had shootings recently at a church and some guy’s driveway, we should probably have armed “good guys” there too…  Yeah, more guns…Seems like every media outlet is saying cops, soldiers, and “jobs creators” are the only good guys?  Maybe politicians too, but they are modest.There may be some truth to NRA’s statement on Media problems, besides the NRA itself.

      2. If I had heard about it earlier I would have had the same reaction: Are you kidding me?

        In some ways this makes even less sense, National Guardsmen aren’t full-time soldiers, they hold civilian jobs and check in for military training on weekends. I think the only reason she even came up with this hare brained idea is that governors can call up their state’s National Guard.

      3. Umm, lots and lots of people objected to that (Or, as you prefer, ‘freaked out’ because objecting to something as logical as turning schools into armed camps is just irrational varpours). And to the people in both parties saying it later that same day. It is a BAD IDEA. No matter who proposes it.

    3. I graduated high school in 97 and we had an armed police officer on campus during school hours.  I’m pretty sure every high school in my area had one, don’t know about the lower grades.  It really wasn’t about protecting us from outside threats as much as it was about protecting the kids from hurting each other.  Fights did happen, and from time to time they were rather violent.

        1. And we have active military, FBI, CIA and the twin towers still were destroyed by terrorists….

          I was simply responding to the fact that some people thought it was a new idea to have armed police in schools.

      1. A Deputy Sheriff at Columbine fired at the perps and perhaps saved the life of  Brian Anderson. The deputy was not on the scene originally, arriving perhaps 5 minutes after the shooting started.

  3. My dad is an NRA member, mainly because he believes in conceal carry laws.

    However, he also thinks putting normal people through the same background check as a LCTF applicant. (Checks that the person is not a felon, convicted of a violent misdemeanor, or has been hospitalized for a mental condition against their will)

    I suspect many members are the same way – they desire evidence based, reasonable gun regulation.

    The NRA can be a crazy, but so can the Brady Campaign. I think a lot of NRA members feel a need to counterweight extreme positions by the left.

    Similar to how the ACLU may represent the KKK – they don’t support racist speech, but fear a slippery slope if it is banned, the NRA often takes extreme positions because they feel that they cannot allow emotion to erode civil rights.

    1. If the NRA treated the 2nd Amendment the way the ACLU treats the 1st, it wouldn’t pretend the “well-regulated” part doesn’t exist.


      You mean sensible gun policy? To the rest of the world the left’s opinions are common sense. Funny that the son of an NRA member sees these same people as extreme.

      All of the evidence is on the side of strict gun control and the NRA merely exists to cloud the water. This sentence is going to get a bunch of flame from pro-gun people but I’ve looked at (and explained on BB) the evidence a thousand times and it always comes down on the side of stricter gun control = less accidental death, less deliberate death and an otherwise similar rate of other crime.

      I will love the America of the future, when all the Gross Old People have rolled over and died and things like gay marriage, abortion, gun control and marijuana legalisation can finally pass like they really should in a country that’s always on about liberty.

    1. I believe there is a substantial difference between saying parts of the goverernment acts at times like jack booted thugs and saying that branch of the government needs reform, vs. saying that there’s a reason to  lift “the assault weapons ban to even the odds in the struggle between ordinary citizens and ‘jack-booted government thugs.’ ”  

  4. I have thought about revoking my life membership more than a few times.  However, what keeps me in the NRA, I suspect, are the same things that keep many people in the organization, despite the frankly nutty comments that spew from the office of the Executive Director. First is the requirement that one be a member of the NRA before being allowed to participate in sanctioned shooting sports competitions. Secondly, retaining my membership gives me a chance to vote for the Board of Directors, in a desperate attempt to return the organization to its core missions of education, youth safety, sport sanctioning, and local organizing.  Lastly, life membership comes with life and health insurance benefits that are decent. 

    I believe in responsible firearm ownership.  I store, transport and operate firearms safely and in accordance with the law.  So.. ” I am the NRA”.  As is my father. And his father before him. We’re not all gun nuts.

    1. But you associate with true nuts, are represented by complete tards, and the organization is the majordomo of gun manufacturers.  I could no more become a member of the NRA than I could become a member of the American Tobacco Grower’s Association.

      1. I don’t know any ‘true nuts’ in the NRA personally, so I refute that statement.  I associate with others in the NRA only in as much as I need to belong to participate in sanctioned events. Do you have a Disqus account?  You must be associated with all those nuts on all the boards where Disqus is used.  Also I would point out that my Life membership was started when I was 10, in the 70’s, and it cost about $20, a good deal at the time, when the Office of the Executive Director was not held by LaPierre.  I don’t know anyone in the NRA who thinks that guy is good for the sport.

        The analogy with the Scouts is not far off.  I am an Eagle Scout and considered the same thing when it became apparent that the National Leadership was waaay out of touch with the bulk of the membership.  But why quit and let them have their way?  Better to stick it out and try to effect change from within.  As with most national organizations the real action is local, and that is what matters.

        I am certainly not a union hater, and curiously don’t know any fellow shooters who are, either.  The NRA is far from the only ‘union-like’ group out there.  It has cost me much, much more to participate in other sports…  Tri-Fed (think it is USA Triathlon now), USCF, ITU../etc etc these dues are 100x what the NRA was. I bet you would become a member of the Tobacco Growers Association if you smoked, and membership was required to buy cigarettes…

    2. First is the requirement that one be a member of the NRA before being allowed to participate in sanctioned shooting sports competitions.

      That sounds like a rule a union would have. I wonder what the Venn diagram of NRA members and people who hate unions looks like.

    3. Wait, you can get health insurance through the NRA? How does that work? It can be very hard to get private insurance, so I wouldn’t mind me some of that…
      The humorous answer to how they got around the “private cooperations can not negotiate as a group with an insurer” I suppose should be obvious, but I’d be interested in what the real answer is.

  5. I saw LaPierre this morning being interviewed on TV.  He did not look good.

    The white speck of spittle in the corner of his mouth was a better indicator of his mindset than his canned and re-hashed remarks.  The complete unwillingness to accept that guns are in any way part of the gun violence problem in America was a good impetus for my morning workout: he really made me angry.

    I said ‘unwillingness’ but it’s actually a willful refusal to face obvious facts.  He CAN’T say it, it’s a physical impossibility for the head of the NRA to admit the truth.  His tack is simply that more guns=more safety and ‘violent criminals’ are the sole problem, and once we get serious about throwing drug dealers, gang members etc into Federal prison…maybe we can turn the corner on this issue we are having.

    The interviewer responded: ‘It seems you don’t believe and will not admit that guns have anything to do with this…’  LaPierre: ‘Guns are a tool.  Violence is the result of violent people…..’

    And then I turned off the TV.  I was getting too agitated.  I hope the interviewer responded with the assertion that guns are indeed tools, but while a hammer or a blowtorch or a pair of pliers could be used to hurt or kill; they have peaceful, necessary uses.  A gun is a tool for killing.  It is a poor choice for opening bottles or removing tattoos.  The purpose and design of firearms is to kill…and handguns and 30 round magazines are not made for hunting ducks and bunnies.  They blast through flesh and bone of women, men and children with great effect, because that is their only purpose.

    I have no doubt that the proliferation of so many poorly regulated killing machines is a far greater danger to this country than the phantom menace of chemical/biological/nuclear ‘Weapons Of Terror’.  

    We have met the enemy…and he is us.

  6. Not exactly a great loss, at any time.  Bush Snr.  did much to expand the military/industrial complex, and erode federal respect for the Constitution.  His foreign policy failures set the stage for perpetual war with radical Islam.  He belongs in the same box as Schumer, Feinstein, and other enemies of the Bill of Rights.

    1. Exactly. Does BoingBoing/Cory even know how many children the Bush family has killed in their time? It’s like getting advice from the devil on the proper way to pray.

  7. eh, Bush Sr gets worked up when a single fed gets killed due to domestic terrorism, but has no problem invading Panama to get rid of a rouge Noriega that the CIA under his oversight installed, but really it’s just an excuse to field-test stealth aircraft?  the targeting systems couldn’t shoot straight and the Panamanian civilians killed were buried with bulldozers.  but Bush cares about a fed who was “a kind man, a loving parent”?  Man, fuck Bush and his retarded sons.

  8. …implying that the victims were “jack-booted thugs” “wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms.”
    Y’see? It’s okay as long as you don’t dress that way.

  9. “It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us”.

    I’d like to believe they put their lives on the line for all of us.  For some reason I can’t accept that, which I don’t fully understand. Perhaps I didn’t say the pledge of allegiance enough, or take a certain pill. 

    Either way, I could care less what either shrub thinks.

  10. As a non-American I’m surprised that a country of otherwise sensible and reasonable people allow self-interested redneck simpletons (NRA) to call the shots when it comes to gun legislation. They don’t give a flying fuck about anything but not letting go of their precious kill-tubes, irrespective of how dangerous it makes society. This is bleedingly obvious to a non-American and it really casts a shadow over your whole country’s reputation and level of logic comprehension. How free is free if some asshole can shoot you at any moment, for any reason?

    Fix your stupid laws. By now when these things happen I don’t even feel compassion for you as a nation because you bring this shit on yourselves.

    And for any idiots who really think the 2nd amendment is going to protect you and yours from a corrupt or unconstitutional government… if push came to shove the US army would destroy you, and your laughable militia, in seconds. Your pop guns ain’t gonna do shit but potentially be played with by little Timmy while you’re not looking, or maybe to be used against you one day by little Timmy before he goes off to school.

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