Quick, write this before the next bullet flies!

gun map
Wayne LaPierre’s vision for America.

This is a horrible way to begin an essay but if I read, think and type fast enough I may get it competed before the next mass gun related killing spree takes place.

Gun violence statistics in America just keep getting worse. Following the most recent mass murder in Oregon the news sources have been flooded with gun violence statistics. Here’s but a small sample:

  • In the first ten months of 2015 we have witnessed forty-five school shootings. That’s more than one a week.
  • In the first ten months of 2015 there have been two hundred and sixty mass shootings.
  • So far this year 10,064 Americans have been killed by gun fire and 20,482 have been injured.
  • Since September 10, 2001 3,380 Americans have been killed by domestic terrorist attacks while 406,496 have died from non-terrorist related gun violence.

These numbers are horrible and far exceed those of any other developed nation. There are people in other countries who fear traveling to America just as Americans have feared traveling to places like Columbia in the midst of their drug wars.

In spite of the numbers, Americans remain greatly divided about guns. I think (hope) most of us agree there is a problem but we aren’t even close to agreeing how to deal with it.

I believe the great majority of moderate Americans support Second Amendment rights but also are okay with reasonable measures to control gun ownership in the nation. I can only guess about what would be reasonable but I think it could include:

  • Banning certain types of weapons.
  • Barring those with criminal and psychiatric histories from ownership.
  • Increased waiting periods coupled with deeper background checks.
  • Creation of a national data base to keep track of guns and who owns them.
  • Closing or tightening the loop holes for buying guns from gun shows, flea markets, and private sales.
  • Limiting types and amounts of ammunition purchased.
  • Limits on clip and magazine sizes.
  • Requiring a license to buy a fire arm and making education and training a part of the licensing process.

To me these things sound reasonable. But to the NRA and the interests it represents, this is a list of Cardinal sins. Their solution to all problems resulting from the pulling of a trigger has been, we need more triggers to pull.

It amazes me that the NRA is so disproportionately powerful. The population of America is 320 million. The membership of the NRA is claimed to be 5 million. Yet the typical politician is so fearful of, or indebted to, the NRA they refuse to even consider any solutions that NRA president Wayne LaPierre doesn’t sanction.

NOTE: The day after I wrote this piece the New York Times published an excellent editorial about the NRA. Click HERE to read it. 

One consequence of this overly powerful lobby is that the nation cannot have a serious discussion about gun violence. President Obama, after the murders in Oregon, placed the responsibility for a solution on congress, saying the problem won’t get better until the politicians want it to. Well, the politicians simply aren’t going to do that because the NRA won’t let them. The NRA is only going to allow answers that lead to Americans spending even more dollars on weaponry. LaPierre famously said just shortly after the murder of over twenty school children in Connecticut that the answer was, for every bad guy with a gun we needed a good guy with a gun.

There is no evidence that more guns leads to less violence. In fact there are serious studies that show just the opposite. That argument, in the words of Doctor Spock, is not logical. There is also no reason for repealing the Second Amendment. Other nations allow gun ownership while having much less violence than America. Almost two decades ago (1997) Australia radically altered its gun laws following a massacre in Tasmania. Since then they have not witnessed a single mass killing and gun related crime statistics in every area have substantially declined. They did not ban guns, they simply started taking gun ownership seriously.

And that is exactly what we need to do in this nation, we need to quit listening to the NRA, the profiteers, the fear mongers, and start listening to each other in trying to formulate a serious solution to a very serious problem.

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