Flipping through the current issue of People magazine, readers get their usual doses of flashy celebrity photos: Madonna and Sean Penn, Mia Farrow, Julian Lennon, Stephanie Mills and Joan Collins.
And then there's Prince George's County Sheriff James Aluisi, "hunter" and "member of the National Rifle Association."
Aluisi is the latest person featured in a four-year-old advertising campaign designed to move the NRA away from its "good old boy image," said Dave Warner, an NRA spokesman, although to some the photograph of the barrel-chested Aluisi suggests just such an image.
This particular "I'm the NRA" advertisement is running in the Feb. 10 issue of People and in the April issue of Sport magazine, Warner said.
In the full-page, color advertisement, Aluisi explains why he supports the NRA in its effort to "reform and repeal" the 1968 Gun Control Act.
"I like to hunt," Aluisi says in the ad, "but you can't cross some state lines with a gun. This NRA-backed amendment says you can transport firearms if they're unloaded and inaccessible. That's fair for honest citizens. And it's honest citizens that laws affect anyway, not criminals."
Aluisi's position puts him at odds with many law enforcement officers who have lobbied against the NRA-backed proposal to amend the federal Gun Control Act. The 45,000-member National Sheriffs Association, of which Aluisi is a member, passed a resolution last June that called the 1968 law "an effective law enforcement tool" and "opposed any change in its form," said Carey Bittick, the association's executive director.
Aluisi addressed that conflict in the ad. "Every organization has a variety of opinions," he said. "So I don't necessarily share all their views. And I think rank-and-file officers support" the NRA's efforts to amend the law.
The NRA and Aluisi offer slightly different versions of how the two-term sheriff was selected to be featured in the advertisement.
Warner, the NRA spokesman, said Aluisi was asked about appearing in the ad while the NRA was soliciting support from law enforcement officers for its amendments to the Gun Control Act. Warner said very few other law enforcement officers have been in the ads. Aluisi said the ad was discussed while he was talking to the NRA about a firemarms safety program.
Among those featured in the ad campaign have been John Riggins, Chuck Yeager, Neil Armstrong and Roy Rogers. "That's not bad company," said Aluisi, who nevertheless is shunning a celebrity tag.
"Being a celebrity is getting your picture taken and being paid $4,000 or $5,000," said Aluisi, who wasn't paid for his appearance. "I did get something for this -- a bad cold."