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Descendant of NRA's First President Says Ancestor Wouldn't Approve of Today's NRA

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Jeremy Burnside is like all too many Americans. His life has been affected by gun violence and in many ways changed forever. Writing in an op-ed published this weekend in The Charleston Gazette, he recounts a 2001 shooting at his graduate college, the Appalachian School of Law, where a student shot and killed the school's dean, a teacher, and a student. This past New Year's Eve, he lost his good friend Lori Francis to gun violence.

But Jeremy Burnside is different than most Americans in that he is related to the first president of the National Rifle Association. The op-ed states, "My distant ancestor, Major Gen. Ambrose Burnside, was the first president of the National Rifle Association. Gen. Burnside would have liked Lori Francis. He would have liked her heart and passion. Gen. Burnside would not like, however, what his organization has become and what it promotes. The NRA was founded by some old Army officers disappointed by their soldier's marksmanship skills. Its purpose was `providing firearms training and encouraging interest in the shooting sports.' It is now a gun-promoting juggernaut that appears to suggest that teachers should be armed to combat the growing number of school shootings. I don't think my ancestor would approve of the NRA's solution to stopping violence in America today."

Jeremy Burnside offers an analysis that many say is far too simple, except for those whose lives have been forever altered by gun violence: "Regardless of who pulled the trigger, I blame the gun. Guns were invented with the specific purpose to kill. People were not. Disturbed people pull triggers, but do not directly send speeding bullets through people's skin and souls. My friend, University of Charleston alumna Lori Francis, is no longer living because she couldn't stop the bullet that ended her life."