A few points:
- When has the NRA ever controlled the story? Last time I check, every storyteller out there was demonizing the NRA. This has gone on for a long time.
- Politicians don’t control the story, either. If anyone of them dares to speak out against the hysteria fueled by gun-control advocates, the majority of the media launch a volley of abuse at them.
- Why is it considered heresy to oppose “commonsense” gun laws when not one of those laws works? Why isn’t it considered repugnant to wave the bodies of dead children to advance an agenda that wouldn’t have saved a single one of them?
Nikolas Cruz wasn’t empowered to commit the Parkland shooting by a Smith & Wesson rifle or by a small gun store in Parkland. He was enabled by a well-meaning, but flawed, strategy agreed upon by the Broward County School Board and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Had it not been for the diversion policy, Cruz would most likely have been in jail or prison on February 14 instead of at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The school board and sheriff were aided by the FBI, which failed to even send two tips warning about Cruz to its Miami field office for investigation.
Strong background checks, limitations on handgun purchases, waiting periods, mandatory safety training and restrictions on firearms and magazine capacity didn’t prevent Elliot Rodger from going on a shooting spree in Isla vista, California. They also didn’t stop Kevin Neal from killing people in Rancho Tehama, California.
Yet Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign all push the same snake-oil remedies that even one of their leaders said wouldn’t have stopped a mass shooting. It amazes me that Shannon Watts, Michael Bloomberg and the rest can even spout this malarkey with a straight face.
What makes things worse is the fact that positions have become so entrenched that productive investigations into reducing violence and firearm-related injuries and deaths is impossible.
So how about we change the story? Let’s begin with the 99.96+% of American gun owners who don’t threaten anyone. Let’s take some baby steps, beginning with promoting real gun safety with an eye toward reducing the number of accidental deaths and injuries. Almost all of these are caused by negligence and could have easily been avoided. There were 21,714 injuries, including 495 fatalities, due to accidental firearm discharges in the U.S. in 2016. That’s more than the total number of people killed and injured in all the mass shootings since the Century Theater in Aurora, Colorado in 6 years ago.
Next, let’s quit scaring ourselves and our children.
The first step, is to kill off the boogeymen we have created. Children are safer from gun injuries in U.S. K-12 public schools than just about anywhere else. In the 2017–2018 school year, 27 children, all of them high-school age, died in mass shootings at a handful of schools. That’s out of an estimated 50.7 million children enrolled in more than 98,000 K-12 public schools. Yes, every one of those deaths was tragic, but so were the other 1,484 murders of children aged 5 to 17.
Next, let’s quit making a gun into a myth. The AR-15 is not a high-powered rifle capable of dealing death unlike any other weapon ever. It’s just a semi-automatic rifle like many other semi-automatic rifles. Let’s quit wasting our time on a gun that is used in fewer murders than bare hands, knives and clubs. The term “assault weapon” was coined to make it sound scarier: there is no such thing in military arsenals.
Somewhere in there, we really need to stop scaring people about rampant gun violence. In 2014, the U.S. homicide rate hit its lowest point since the late 1950s. While it has risen in recent years, it’s still almost 44% lower than it was in the first year of Bill Clinton’s presidency, the first year of George W. Bush’s presidency and the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency. In fact,, guns are involved in less than 5% of the total number of violence-related injuries and deaths.
Last but certainly not least, we need to quit painting the 80 million Americans that own guns as some kind of mental deviants. Your story won’t win many friends if you call them nasty names.