• By Lt. Tim McMillan

Dear NRA Spokeswoman Dana Loesch, I Have a Question I'd Like To Ask.

First of all, Mrs. Loesch, let me start by saying, it wouldn't be a huge leap to for anyone to suggest that you and I have some distinct philosophical and ideological differences. 

With that said, I don’t believe that the differences between us are as widely divergent as it might seemingly appear.

For starters, we both are relatively the same age; with you being two years my senior. The significance of this comes in the fact that we both were born in a fairly unique 3 to 4-year window, in which we were afforded the opportunity to grow up both understanding and possessing the characteristics of several different cultural generations. 

Essentially, our cultural identities are a mixture of reformed conservative Baby Boomers and the progressive independence of Generation Xer’s; and whether we would like to admit it or not, the uniqueness of our birth years, also places the stages of our lifespan development in prime position to be influenced by the more liberal-minded millennial generation. 

Because we both grew up in this unique collision point of social beliefs, I have a sneaky suspicion that you’re a little more culturally sensitive than you let on to be.

For example, Mrs. Loesch you have described yourself as being a “liberal Democrat” for the first 23-years of your life; and it wasn’t until September 11th that you had a “come to Jesus moment,” and “converted" to being a distinctly right-wing Conservative.

Now, I truly understand that September 11th was very emotional and pivotal point for many of us who lived through that day; myself included. It would seem for you that the tragedy of September 11th compounded the realization of the cruelty of life‘s unexpectedness.

For you it would seem that your sense of power and control over your existence came from being captivated by preachings of the farther Right American Tea Party, which ultimately brings us to the point you are today.

Me, personally, I consider myself to be a radical moderate. Often I am more left on social issues and lean right when it comes to fiscal matters of government. 

So, though our political views might at times differ, I truly find it hard to believe that the uniqueness of your past you aren’t a little more open minded than you like to let on. 

It is important at this point to note you are the spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association. In the end, just because you are the face of the NRA, does not mean that you have any control over the governance and direction of the organization any more than Ronald McDonald gets to choose to sell Big Macs.

Now, based on nothing but intuition, I would bet that there are times when your personal opinions differ from the positions of your employer. That is by no means to suggest you aren’t an ardent supporter of gun ownership and second amendment rights. I believe you have well-established that long before your current relationship with NRA.

However, there have indeed been flashes of divergence from the cue cards they provide you; such as last year when you were caught off guard by a reporter who asked for your position on the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile on July 6th, 2016.

Your response was that it was a bad shooting and that Mr. Castile didn’t deserve to die.

Your answer had to be frowned upon by the bosses; not because your comments were not supportive of lawful gun owner's rights. Rather, because they had to have rubbed some within law enforcement the wrong way; a profession that the NRA established in 1960 an entire division in order to exert their influence over.

I do honestly believe that your answer was genuine and it came not from the spokeswoman of the NRA. Rather, they were the words of a mother, wife, and simply an empathetic human being.

Unfortunately, in the role you serve, your personal opinion isn’t necessarily the most important thing and instead, it is your ability to play the part that they want.

At the end of the day, Mrs. Loesch we live in an American culture that views the world as being filled with either heroes or villains. I believe when it came to pass that your genuine public enthusiasm for gun ownership found you being labeled by many people as a villain; this became a role you decided to embrace. Thus it has become the public face of who you are to some.

Now, I have gone through this very lengthy introduction for the sole purpose of hopefully expressing something about myself. That is that I reject the convention, and do not believe that any of us are truly heroes or even villains. Instead, within each of us exist an antihero; an individual who is inherently flawed yet possesses the ability to do tremendous good on any given day.

As such, Mrs. Loesch, even though you may say some things that objectively you’d probably agree is purposely offensive towards others; or in light of the fact that there are probably some areas that you and I would not see eye to eye... I still do not view you to be a villain.

I have taken the time to painstakingly lay out in the open my perceptions of who you really are in order to establish a foundation of respect between us. This is something I hope that you’ll reciprocate because ultimately Mrs. Loesch this has all been leading up to the fact that I have a question of you I’d like to ask.

It comes as no surprise to me that I was not invited to participate in the Town Hall forum hosted by CNN that you, Senator Marco Rubio, and the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting all recently participated in.

Before we go any further, I want to publicly say, in my opinion it doesn’t matter which side one lies on regarding the debate of curbing mass school violence; the fact that you and Sen. Rubio agreed to knowingly walk in to a hornets’ nest of pain, frustration, anger, and emotion; to participate in a live televised discussion, hosted by a network that is less favorable to your partisan views; is commendable and is indeed deserving of respect.

With that said, there is one particular question that was not asked during the segment. One that I consider being a very important one that needs to be answered amongst this entire debate.

Please understand, I do not actually expect you to answer it, nor is a response from you even my intent. Rather, this question is one that I think you should ask yourself and the answer you come up with should be free from the influence of political necessity.

In truth, this question isn’t merely for you, Mrs. Loesch, rather it is a question that each and every person should consider, as it is highly like that any of us will be able to substitute any of the principal themes and reflect on what our own individual answers might be.

It might surprise you to know that I consider mass gun violence and the debate on firearm regulation to be two mutually exclusive topics that share a confounding variable of guns. I believe both warrant independent problem-solving processes and potentially require entirely different solutions.

One of the most significant factors that bring me to this conclusion is based on the fact that prior to 1998 incidents of premeditated and organized mass school shootings was negligible and largely didn’t exist.

For 222 years, from 1776 to 1998, there were only a total of six mass shootings at academic institutions in which more than three innocent lives were lost. Of these six incidents, only one didnt occur on a college campuses, most notably August 1, 1966, at the University of Texas at Austin, in the “Texas Tower Shooting.” Additionally, one of these five shootings, the May 4, 1970, “Kent State Massacre,” was committed by members of the military National Guard.

However, on March 24, 1998, when Westside Middle School students Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden killed a teacher and four students, it would mark the start of the era of the American mass school shooter.

Since 1998 there have been a total of 14 mass school shootings, of which 8 have occurred at primary or secondary school campuses. In fact, the total number of students who have been murdered at schools in America in the last 20 years almost surpasses the total number of victims for the proceeding 222 years of American history.

Additionally, the increases in mass shootings are not limited to just schools, as mass shootings, in general, have tripled since 1998.

We cannot legitimately hold the AR-15 or carbine rifle solely responsible for this dramatic, almost 300% increase, in mass school violence, largely because the Colt AR-15 was first introduced to the civilian consumer market in 1964. Essentially, there is a 34-year gap in which the AR-15 was widely available, yet it still didn’t influence mass death. 

Looking at the data, it causes me to beg the question…why? Why is it that out of all of the mass shootings in the last 242 years, 74% of them has occurred in only 8% of this total time span?

In my opinion, we cannot truly find any solutions to curb mass school violence, until we are able to discover an answer to this absolutely vital question.

Now, with it in mind that potentially gun control and mass school shootings are not interrelated, one of the almost unarguable causes for mass violence and a stance that has been conveyed to ad nauseam by the NRA is that ultimate cause is related to a perpetrators mental health. This brings me to my question for you Mrs. Loesche and honestly the entire NRA.

On April 7, 2017, the NRA published a 60-second video, which you appeared and narrated. The video showed dramatic imagery showing the current state of America to be a dystopian world, filled with violence and chaos.

Coupled with this was your melodramatic narration Mrs. Loesche in which you ambiguously referenced Liberal Americans as “they” and painted a portrait of the existence of some secret cabal that was hell-bent on destroying America.

Now, look... Mrs. Loesche, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and say that as the NRA’s spokeswoman, you didn’t choose the words you used and maybe you are truly oblivious to their intent. However, full disclosure; I’m not just a cop. My graduate school academic and research background is in cognitive psychology, specifically consciousness and human perception; social engineering, indeed being a component of my particular interest.

If you didn’t realize it at the time, the language that was used in this video dripped with colorful verbiage like: “assassination,” “Hitler,” or “resistance.” In the end, this is all by design and meant to subconsciously influence a viewer’s perception.

In your parting words, you capped things off by suggesting that America would be reduced to a modern day Sodom and Gomora if people didn’t stand up and fight this visceral band of sinners (Liberals) with the “clenched fist of truth.”

Look, I’m not saying this to be rude; rather it really is the truth. Had Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda watched this video his response very likely would have been, “That’s good shit right there.”

Almost a year ago, when I first saw this video I voiced my concerns over its content and intent. Granted, the title of my article: “NRA I Have a Crazy Idea…Do Your F%$#ing Job,” might have been a little direct, however, I still stand by the fact that producing this type of media is not the actions of an organization whose bylaws clearly state it is designed for the protection of firearm rights and ownership.  In fact, the entire ad never even one mentioned anything about firearms.

Ultimately, all this video did was ambiguous suggest a politically inspired civil war was upon America; and amounted to emotionally charged partisan porn. Unfortunately, this was only one of three different similar videos the NRA would release over the course of last year.

So… this brings me to my question Mrs. Loesche.

If indeed, the primary influence on mass school violence is mental instability, which again I’m unaware of anyone who is in disagreement with this, what effect do you believe this video and similar like it have on mentally unhealthy individuals?

Do you believe that seeding the belief of a chaotic world existence, filled with the threat of violence and inspiring dissent amongst people to be something that represents the advocacy of lawful gun ownership rights?

To what effect do you consider that videos such as those released by the NRA last year, or any other similar media, has on individuals or society as a whole?

Have you ever considered that one potential influence for the uptick in mass violence over the last 20 years is that it coincides with the information age and that suddenly people have the ability to be significantly influenced by what they see, hear, or read through social media and online?

This, Mrs. Loesche, is the question that I have for you, and frankly for everyone to take a moment and consider. Truly, think about just how much our polarization and willingness to be viscerally hateful to other people affects our overall society.

Lastly, Ms. Loesche, you cannot in good faith tell me that you don’t believe that videos like those you released with the NRA can have no effect on people. You will not be honest with me or yourself if you try to suggest that mere words cannot influence pain and harm.

I know for a fact that you cannot tell me this, because I’m well aware of the enormous number of well documented disgusting, hateful, and threatening messages you receive because of your stances on gun rights. You cannot tell me that having to employ a private security detail for your children just so they can go to school because of these threats is something you particularly enjoy. You’d be lying if you told me that last fall when you abruptly had to move because of credible threats against your home and family, you considered that just a jolly good time.

So we are clear, I consider the people who threaten you and your family with horrific violence to be horrible and fundamentally these are actions of criminals. You and I could never agree on a single point of view, however, I would still be sympathetic towards you and your family for having to endure this type of treatment just because of your beliefs.

Mrs. Loesche, for all of the reasons I just mentioned; you of all people should be able to honestly answer these question I’ve asked and be willing to consider how one might be able to make a change that offers a more positive impact on society and even gun owners rights.

In closing, Mrs. Loesche, in the article I wrote eight months ago, I appealed to the NRA to do their job as a firearm advocacy organization.

Now, once again, I find myself doing the same.

If the National Rifle Association wants to assert itself as an organization that legitimately supports lawful American gun ownership and firearm rights, then please put your money where your mouth is. Stop simply lining the pockets of politicians and securing votes, and instead actually do something meaningful for lawful gun owners. Such as establishing an entity within the organization whose sole task is to research and find solutions to preventing the criminal use of guns.

In fact, how about the NRA invests in finding out why is it that mass shootings have dramatically increased in the last 20 years. This should be one question that the NRA should be eager to answer, considering as I’ve already mentioned there is evidence to suggest the solution, does not actually involve guns.

And with that, I bid you adieu Mrs. Loesche. I do truly hope the next time I feel compelled to reach out to you, it is under much different circumstances.

Tim McMillan is a retired police lieutenant and investigative intelligence analyst; and holds BA's in mathematics and cognitive psychology. Primarily, focusing on the Defense and Intelligence Communities, he now uses his unique background, coupled with a willingness to examine any mystery, to deliver groundbreaking investigative reporting. Tim is a contributor for The War Zone, Vice, and Popular Mechanics

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