Sorry National Rifle Association, but guns are dangerous indeed.
Ask the family of Veronica Rutledge, who was killed last week in a northern Idaho Walmart after her 2-year-old son got his hands on the 9 mm concealed in her purse.
Ask the family of the Burley teenager killed in November 2013 when his friend was cleaning a shotgun after a day of hunting and pointed it at him.
The NRA, once committed to gun safety and education, is now the political equivalent of an English football hooligan. Disagree and get bludgeoned. All the while, the tragedies continue to mount. As gun people, we plead with the shooting community to demand more from society’s primary pro-gun advocates.
The NRA says guns aren’t the problem; a broken mental health system is to blame. But neither Rutledge, a chemical engineer, nor the 14-year-old who killed his friend in Burley were insane.
The NRA often pulls out the classic “you don’t blame Ford when there’s a car wreck” line, which doesn’t make any sense. Vehicles are heavily regulated and only operated by licensed drivers. Any suggestion of regulating the gun industry is met with shrill rebuke and some scripted message meant to expand the scope of the Second Amendment as far as possible.
“Guns don’t kill people, people do” is another NRA sermon. And then it pushes for expansion of gun rights onto college campuses and, frankly, anywhere else the public might frequent. Now professors in Idaho are accidentally shooting themselves.
The organization’s minions even go so far as to make the case that someone could feasibly be killed with any number of random objects. Of course, sticking someone with a fork would take substantially more skill and strength than peppering them with buckshot. That part gets left out. It’s that efficiency that explains why more than 60 percent of murders in the U.S. are committed with a firearm, the FBI reports.
The NRA is intentionally obfuscating the obvious, most-significant fact here. Unlike cars, planes and various pointed kitchen utensils, guns are tools made specifically to kill. And they’re exceedingly good at it.
The unyielding, irrational argument is killing people. An organization once dedicated to promoting safe handling of firearms has become a roadblock to any reasonable conversation about guns. The NRA and anti-gun liberals have staked out positions so extreme that the rest of us in the gray area aren’t even allowed into the discussion. There is no excuse for a pistol to be within a toddler’s grasp.
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Gun seizures are unAmerican, and that’s why no one is seizing them. But resistance to universal background checks for gun purchases is also a dishonest position. California and New York overreacted to the massacre at Newtown, Conn., rushing through bad legislation that only created a new class of criminal from otherwise law-abiding citizens. But even in those extreme instances, the predictions of gestapo-like thugs banging on doors and clearing gun chests never happened.
Spinning the truth might work in the short term by mobilizing the increasingly radicalized base. But in the long term, it will work against gun enthusiasts and the gun industry, as the country continues to become more urban-centric.
Data on gun violence in America is hazy at best. The NRA beats back any attempt to meaningfully measure the impact on society of a weapon intended for one purpose. The dearth of information is laughable. Imagine if deaths caused by car accidents went unreported simply because Detroit thought it would hurt the bottom line. Colt and Remington should be held to the same standard.
The most pro-Second Amendment enthusiast must admit that a society where guns are widespread will see more to deaths, crime and injuries. The conversation should be about the merits of the trade-off, not disputing that fact.
Even in Idaho, where an estimated 7 percent of the population carries concealed weapons, we have reasonable regulation of the right to bear arms.
Walk into the Twin Falls County Department of Motor Vehicles and you’re greeted with a sign urging people to apply for an enhanced concealed weapon license. But that license requires eight hours of classroom and field training, plus a background check.
Idaho’s enhanced weapon license is how it should be done. It promotes safe handling. It promotes education. It promotes responsibility.
But the NRA instead has benefited from dead school children, by spreading fear of non-existent government incursion. And, as shown by the huge jump in pre-Christmas gun purchases, the fear campaign is working.
More guns on the streets increase the need for education and a commitment to the responsibilities that come with owning firearms. Simply arming the public to the teeth — the NRA’s primary goal — is ridiculous if respect for the weapon isn’t part of the discussion.
It’s time for a real conversation about guns in America, one that’s been silenced for too long. Guns are dangerous, even if the gun industry’s primary mouthpiece refuses to admit it.