Felon Pens a “Heartfelt Thank You to the NRA” for Opposing Universal Background Checks

Crime
A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
June 13 2013 9:00 AM

Felon Pens a “Heartfelt Thank You to the NRA” for Opposing Universal Background Checks

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The seal for the National Rifle Association (NRA) is seen during the 142nd annual convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center May 4, 2013 in Houston, Texas.

Photo by KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

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The most articulate advocate for national gun control legislation might be a convicted felon and federal prisoner. Gary W. Bornman, a bank robber who’s currently incarcerated in the Supermax federal prison in Florence, Colo., recently wrote a letter to the Hartford Courant that ought to embarrass anyone who opposes background checks for gun buyers. The Courant ran the letter under a classic headline: “Felon Thanks The NRA.” Here’s how it began:

As a lifelong career criminal, although I no longer enjoy the right to keep and bear arms, I'd like to take a moment to express my appreciation to the National Rifle Association for nonetheless protecting my ability to easily obtain them through its opposition to universal background checks.
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You can read the whole thing here.

Bornman notes that, as soon as he is released from prison, he plans to visit a gun show to pick up the necessary guns and ammunition “with which to resume my criminal activities.” He closes by thanking the NRA and its congressional allies: “I, along with tens of thousands of other criminals, couldn't do what we do without you.”

Yes, this is sort a cheap, “gotcha” point. And, yes, it’s also possible that Bornman doesn’t care about gun control so much as he cares about writing provocative letters. A 2001 Courant feature about Bornman notes his hobby of writing to newspaper editorial boards. The piece excerpts a 1999 letter Bornman wrote to the Los Angeles Times, titled “Counsel Me Before I Leave Prison,” which reads, in part: “Prison officials aren't the least bit concerned that I have constant thoughts of harming others or that I fantasize about such things as assassinating the president or killing a bunch of [prison officials] as they leave work.”

So, OK, maybe Bornman isn’t going to be cited in any position papers anytime soon. But you know what? His point about background checks is punchy, thought-provoking, and memorable. Well played, Gary W. Bornman. The Courant ought to give this guy a column.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.

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