Tom Arrested at NRA Headquarters
Tom is charged with trepassing after requesting response to 1999 letter to Charlton Heston; on August 22, charges dismissed
On June 13, 2001, I was in Washington, D.C. to give a keynote luncheon address at the annual meeting
of Handgun Control, Inc. (now known as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence). While I was there, I decided
that I just had to go to the headquarters of the NRA, because I was fed up and frustrated.
Picketing legally along sidewalk outside headquarters.
had worse things happen. What really bothered me was that the NRA sent a man out to photograph me; they wouldn't send someone to talk to me, only to photograph me. But I don't see how there was much for them to photograph: I was peaceful and respectful during my picketing.
At about 4:30 the NRA said they wanted me off their property. When I refused to do so, I was arrested, handcuffed and put into a patrol car. I was arrested on
I flew back on August 22 for the hearing. When the case was called up, the district attorney informed my attorney that the the arresting police officer had resigned and that summonses had not been issued, so there were no witnesses in the courtroom. The judge then dismissed the case. That was it. A nice outcome, though I did have to spend over $2,000 for the ordeal. (If you would be willing to help with my legal and travel expenses, please refer to that page.)
After the hearing, I then went again to NRA headquarters and marched for an hour. This time I only marched on the public sidewalk, not on NRA property. Not long after I arrived, a man pulling into the NRA parking lot called out to me, calling me a "crybaby."
And, once again, the NRA sent out someone to photograph me (but once again, not to TALK to me.) I wasn't on their property, but he still took lots of photographs.
After the photographer acknowledged to me that he was with the NRA, I asked him if he knew what it was like to lose a child to a gun shot. No response. I asked him nicely if I could tell him about my son Daniel. No response at all. He just walked away. Nice guy. No, the NRA doesn't like to hear the stories about victims.
The next day I asked Andrew of the NRA Public Affairs office for the name of the photographer and asked WHY they took pictures of me and what they would do with them. He said he was not at liberty to answer any of my questions.
Is the NRA obligated to respond to my letter
to Heston? No, of course not. But why not acknowledge my letter in some way? Why not simply admit they won't answer
me? Why tell me they'll respond and then not do so? What kind of organization so readily dismisses a man who has
suffered what I have suffered? Have they no humanity, no compassion?
I think that Mr. Heston's failure to respond to me is very symbolic of the NRA's failure to respond to the many questions that Americans have about gun violence and gun laws and loopholes. The NRA would rather not talk with us, they'd rather just work through the back rooms of politics, through campaign contributions, and through the intimidation of politicians by its members.
I felt that I had to resort to civil disobedience in order to make a point: that the NRA is unwilling
to respond to simple questions from a grieving father about the gun laws it supports. They
are unwilling to face those who've suffered as a result of the public policies the NRA has promoted. How long will we have to wait to get answers? I continue to wait. America waits.