Another day – another gun related death. In this case, another mass shooting by a white extremist. And, in a school, nonetheless.
And, another platitude of “Thoughts and Prayers”
Let me translate for you…
Thoughts: “man, that NRA contribution money will pay for lots of tasteless attack ads against those stupid libtards during the next election.”
Prayers: “Well, I could say the “Our Father” but that line about on Earth as it is in Heaven isn’t accurate since guns aren’t killing anyone up there, so I’ll just make up some lines in my head. Maybe, something like, “Dear lord, thank your for that NRA contribution and I’m sorry that crazy white dudes killed people again. Amen””
It might help if we stopped pretending the modern NRA is some kind of constitutional protection society and treated them like what they really are – a lobbying organization of arms manufacturers.
It is not now and hasn’t been for some time an organization seeking to represent the needs of individual members. And, more importantly, it is not now and hasn’t been for quite some time an organization seeking to uphold the constitution.
It an organization who’s sole missions is about propping up arms sales.
While the tactics may invoke aspects of constitutional americana to tug at the heart strings of is individual membership the process has one and only one mission – increase arms sales at all costs. They produce more propaganda designed to push sales than they do for any other aspect of arms ownership – including safety, maintenance, marksmanship, etc. And, why not? The NRA’s leash pullers are the manufacturers who thrive on a never ending push for increased access to guns which is what drives their profits.
Gun ownership in the US since the 70s has wavered between 38 & 42% of all households according to statista.com use of AFT and other government source information. However, the number of registered weapons has significantly increased over that time, both on a per-owned household rate and on a per 10,000 persons rate. This means that while the household number remained fairly steady, there are significant changes in the complexion of ownership within the household. Furthermore, both arms manufacturing within the US for US sales increased from roughly 3 million per year in 1986 to nearly 10 million in 2015 while the number of arms imports to the US for sale increased from 700,000 per year in 1986 to over 5 million in 2016. These increases outpace the growth of the US population. The industry itself has seen sales and in turn profits swell in that same frame as a reflection of the increased per-owner purchasing as well as the increased sales through population growth despite steady per household percent ownership.
Profit motive is a very strong incentive for all industries to judge success and arms manufactures are no different. They use the NRA to ensure that profits continue to increase.
Individual members have voiced their own needs and desires that the organization cannot and will not meet under its current leadership because its purpose is to extort money from individual members in order to fund the representation of arms manufacturers.
There may have been a time the NRA served some grander purpose. That time is no longer. They are right up there with the Tobacco lobby and the Non-renewal energy lobby, to name but two of the worst offenders, in their manipulation of the socio-cultural conversation, the political process, and the collection, analysis and distribution of facts with the sole purpose of maintaining sales at the expense of all else.
If the NRA leadership cared about preserving the constitution they would approach the second amendment in the context of the entire document rather than focusing on a single, poorly written clause within the amendment’s text and treating it as dysfunctional loophole to create vastly more opportunities for arms than what could ever be necessary.
If the NRA leadership cared about their individual members they would more actively represent single dues payers who are on record time and again supporting so-called “common sense” steps to creating responsible gun ownership through legislation and other regulatory measures rather than working against those voices and regulatory measures.
If the NRA leadership cared about the socio-cultural environment in which guns are utilized they would welcome opportunities for law enforcement, health care, academics and independent researchers, municipalities and federal agencies, and others to collect, study and report on the various impacts of arms in society and allow that information to be distributed unencumbered in order to create a safer and more stable environment for gun ownership rather than suppressing all forms of research and denying any information manufacturers deem even potentially negative to increasing sales.
If the NRA leadership cared about the safety of everyone exposed to guns they would work more closely with all levels law enforcement and government agencies to develop programs that promote safe use of guns rather than fighting against any and all efforts that requires those in contact with arms to be properly educated, licensed, insured and their stock of weapons to be registered and safely maintained.
Instead, the NRA is selling out the “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” clause of the Constitution by focusing blinding on making any and all arms available to any and all people in any and all circumstances. Guns are a tool with one primary purpose – to kill. Sure, there are some secondary aspects of how guns could be used, but nearly all of them are supportive to the primary goal of the tool – which is to kill. The NRA surely doesn’t believe it’s mission is to promote death by gun. But it’s actions routinely support the idea that death is a necessary and vital aspect of creating an environment of more guns.
There is no domestic tranquility when people are afraid of dying at school, or attending concert, or in their house of worship, or at a movie theater, or just out on the street when according to gunviolencearchive.org each year for the last three years there more than over 300 mass shootings – nearly one per day.
There is no promotion of general welfare when according to gunviolencearchive.org each year for the last three years there were more than 2,000 unintentional shooting incidents “reported,” including several hundred that involve pre-teen children; over 21,000 confirmed gun suicides, as well as over 10,000 “reported” gun related attempts at suicide; over 30,000 non-injurious incidents “reported” involving the inappropriate handling guns. The quotes are because under-reporting due to differences in documentation from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, a lack of a centralized database of this information, and even a lack of reporting by individuals involved means what we’re looking at is minimum numbers – reality is much higher but can’t be fact-checked because organizations like the NRA suppress the necessary vehicles for it.
There is no promotion of justice when according to gunviolencearchive.org each year for the last three years just the fear of guns by law enforcement results in over 3,000 “reported” incidents produced by officers discharging their weapon to produce bodily harm or outright death by cop – a large portion of which the suspect was proven unarmed or could be demonstrated as not a direct threat to the officer involved other than the common trope of “fearing for one’s life.” Again, due to differences in documentation from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, a lack of a centralized database of this information, and even a lack of reporting by some departments what’s available is the minimum, not the factual reality – and the numbers don’t include non-injurious discharge situations that have related harmful effects.
There is no common defense when individuals are allowed to act individually and without restraint when according to gunviolencearchive.org each year for the last three years there are about 60,000 incidents per year involving guns many of where are entirely preventable. Bodily harm and death occur because of preventable irresponsible handling of guns and ammunition due to a lack of training and oversight, the allowance of those involved in domestic violence to have access to guns, the allowance of those with a documented history of relevant emotional instability to have access to guns, the misuse of laws like “Stand Your Ground” and doctrines like “Fear of Life,” sales via “straw men” and other legal loopholes that put legal guns into precarious situations, and so on. These are all preventable situations that more often than not end up with unnecessarily violent ends by the use of a tool doing exactly what it is designed to do, kill.
While it is possible to injure with a chef’s knife the rate of those kinds of injuries is dwarfed by firearm discharge. Chef’s knives just aren’t designed to inflict the same kind of harm that a gun is which is why accidents with them rarely result in death and they aren’t typically used in crimes. And sure, someone wishing to commit suicide would try with means other than a gun if they were so determined, but firearms are unsurprisingly effective which is why they account for the percentage of deaths. And, true too, there are other means of creating illegal mayhem that a lawbreaker could use instead but it’s the ease of access, simplicity of operation and overall effectiveness of guns that makes it the tool of choice for crimes like murder.
More importantly, all these numbers include only direct physical harm. The psychological harm induced by guns to those directly or indirectly experiencing their violence effects is even greater. The socio-cultural burden of gun violence is even greater than that and likely cannot be accurately measured. And, yet, the NRA would have you believe above all else, more guns, in more people’s hands would make the situation better – not fewer guns in only the most responsible hands.
It therefor becomes difficult to support such a flighty interpretation of what the NRA promotes as it’s goal of upholding the Constitution when it’s actions clearly don’t. This isn’t about individuals coming together to make their voices heard to their elected representative anymore. It’s about the NRA being a corrupt lobby defined by it’s corporate masters in an attempt to continue the upward trend of gun ownership which leads to increased profits for manufacturers.
Of course, right now, we cannot fully determine all of that because the NRA is also shielding by having to explain it to us. They not only repress information about the effects of guns but are an opaque organization themselves, widtholding vital information about understand how and why the opperate they way they do. Sure, their argument is they provide the information that’s required by law while all the while fighting, along with other opaque lobbying organizations, to maintain a complete lack of oversight and transparency to what they are doing.
There’s at least three courses of action that could be considered to help move foward
- The overturning of the Citizen’s United decision that has conflated money with speech which resulted in those with the deepest pockets to have the greatest influence on the outcomes of both elections and the legislative process. The process of negating the Citizen’s United decision could include:
a) greater limitations of financial contributions across the board
b) full disclosure of where those contributions originate
c) greater disclosure of how those contributions are being used
Amend the rules about how lobbyists interact with the political process. Individual citizens, business sectors and other like minded groups should be able to pool their collective resources to unify their singular voices but they should not be allowed to misrepresent themselves or their goals as a counterweight to the normal activities involved in legislative, statutory or regulatory process. This could include:
a) transparency regarding organizational contact with the legislature and statutory bodies, including all proposals and propositions being on the public record. No more backroom meetings involving lobbiests.
b) requirement for opposing view consideration. proposals presented by or on behalf of a lobby should have unfettered access by others for review and public rebuttal and those replies should be required reading for the legislature or statutory body.
Amend the rules defining a lobby itself. This could include:
a) full disclosure on who is involved in the organization and what their contributions to the organization are – not just who is on the board but all aspects including highly leveraged contributors, etc.
b) lobbies and other related organizations would be required to have a descriptive name of who they represent and not marketing-style titles that obscure their intents (ie, Citizen’s United tells us nothing about what the organization does or who is actually involved despite being a cutsey name it’s specifically designed to confuse; the National Rifle association could be changed as well since it doesn’t specifically represent only rifles and says nothing about who is associated with them.)
Until we begin to address the underlying causes of how the NRA and it’s ilk went so far off track to become the entitled, manipulative and opaque organizations they have become the political environment around us will continue to erode and organizations like the NRA will continue to actually dismantle the constitution rather than support it. Lives will be lost. Not just by tobacco related deaths. Not just by non-renewalable energy’s assault on the environment. Not just by the NRA’s ultra-lax gun stance. But by any organization that puts some form of corporate greed above that of the betterment of society as a whole,therefore undermining the great American ideal of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all”