The following is part of an ongoing chronicle of what is happening backstage at the NRA in Houston, TX. Mark Mabry, a member of TheBlaze and The American Dream Labs, will be telling not only the story of Glenn Beck’s time at the NRA, but of the everyday Americans making a stand for their rights. Earlier entries can be found further down the page.

by Mark Mabry

At breakfast I sat across from a man I’ll call “Joe”.

He was probably in his seventies (sorry if I’m off Joe). The quality of his suit, which was sharp and natural, combined with the pin on his right lapel bespoke… sway.

I put down my bran muffin.

“Great conference, eh?”

Joe probably thought I was hitting on him.

“Yeah, they all start out that way…” He was genuine.

“Nice pin, I realize that you’re probably more important than I’m aware off, so I apologize for my ignorance, but…” and I proceeded to interrupt his breakfast.

He was important. Joe, who asked not to be named, indulged me patiently, even generously it turned out.

After exchanging pleasantries we got down to talking. Joe had a Southern drawl, he lives in Virginia. And while he didn’t talk a lot, he said a ton.

We talked about the 2nd amendment, about people that attend a conference like this, about the state of childhood education. His grandkids were older than my kids. He dropped a few gems on me…

“Intolerance used to be a virtue. But our kids are taught differently than I was, then your parents were, or even than you were…” (He correctly pegged my age at “the sunny side of forty”).

Now, Joe isn’t a bigot. We didn’t get much into politics, but I suspect that having said that about intolerance that he meant something completely different than how we define the word today… that is, he wasn’t speaking in terms of sexual preference.

His thoughts were deeper. They dealt with discernment. He seemed concerned that our kids weren’t even being challenged to make their own decisions between right and wrong.

Then we got to the second amendment.

“Most people haven’t been to a country that is oppressed. They don’t understand what it feels like to be helpless.”

And with that word, “helpless”, Joe had found his sweet spot.

“I’ve talked to people who have looked down the barrel of a gun… the wrong side. They feel helpless. So they become gun people. They do to it to never feel that way again.”

Joe was matter of fact, but there was depth to his words. There were seventy-something years to his words.

To him, guns are about avoiding “helplessness”.

Or in Blaze terms…

Being out of Control.