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A Piece of My Mind
March 27, 2013

The NRA Let Me Down

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Senior Editor.

Author Affiliation: Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Behavioral Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (paul.kettl@va.gov).

JAMA. 2013;309(12):1239-1240. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.1302

I was 15 years old, and after firing the shot, I could feel the kick of the rifle against my shoulder. Hearing the “pop” of the shot also gave me a thrill that echoed through my adolescent frontal lobe. I looked up, and the representative of the National Rifle Association who was running the session told us, “We are going to have some fun today, and we’ll do some more target practice, but we also are going to learn how to use that weapon safely and responsibly.”

As our scoutmaster looked on, we continued to shoot rounds in the field at the back of his house, and the NRA representative proceeded with the NRA “Safe Hunter” course. For us, the fun of target practice was a given. The lesson we needed was the safety and responsibility part. While he continued with the instructions on using the weapon safely, with special emphasis on responsibility for our adolescent brains, one of my buddies, the scoutmaster's son, looked on proudly. “I’m a member of the NRA already,” he said.