The leadership of the NRA is not only out of touch with the fundamental values of the majority of Americans, it is out of touch with the values of its own members.

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Along with Americans throughout the country, we are filled with grief following the most recent massacre, this one at Santa Fe High School in Texas. We also are intensely angry at the timidity of our elected representatives who have allowed themselves to be intimidated into silence by the National Rifle Association.

We echo the views of a good number of clergy who have been moved by the courageous stand of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, following the slaughter of 17 there. We have been encouraged by the tens of thousands of young students across the country who have joined them in speaking out.

Although members of the clergy, we are no strangers to guns. Many of us in the clergy have grown up in families of farmers and hunters where guns were always present. Some of us have fought in foreign wars and have carried assault weapons in what we knew to be the defense of liberty. Some of us have valued training in the use of weapons provided by the once-respected NRA.

Now that respect is gone. Where once the NRA was synonymous with the safe and expert use of arms, it has now become synonymous with an irrational, careless and dangerous gun policy. It has become the avowed enemy of many young people in this country.

It was not surprising that, when the governor and Legislature of Florida adopted legislation to raise the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21, the NRA sued immediately to block its implementation. It is not surprising that the NRA, in response to actions of the Parkland students themselves, said this: “Today’s protests aren’t spontaneous. Gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and exploiting children as part of their plan to DESTROY the Second Amendment and strip us of our right to defend ourselves and our loved ones.”

Neither “Hollywood elites” nor “gun-hating billionaires,” we write on behalf of other pastoral colleagues who have marched through the streets of Olympia and Seattle with thousands of people who demand an end to the NRA’s assault on civil society. We call for change to the NRA’s political agenda. We call for an end to its multimillion-dollar effort to intimidate and threaten any elected leader, at either the state or federal level, who favors a ban on assault weapons, bump stocks or high-capacity magazines, or who champions background checks and other common-sense gun laws.

The leadership of the NRA is not only out of touch with the fundamental values of the majority of Americans, it is out of touch with the values of its own members.

We salute the corporations and individuals that are moving to withdraw their moral and financial support from the NRA. We encourage the people we serve to honor their decision with their business. As for the millions of law-abiding members of the NRA who do not support the radical position taken by the leadership, we call upon them to search their conscience, reflect on their faith, their patriotism and their civic responsibility. We call upon them to stand up, to speak out, reclaim this organization’s legacy and return it to its former place of respect.

Even as we mourn the victims at Santa Fe, we have an ominous feeling that the next school massacre is coming. Like the school shootings that have ripped the heart from communities across this land in 2018 alone, it also will be laid in large measure at the feet of the NRA.