The vice-president of the National Rifle Association had his week-long-awaited "news conference" yesterday at which he took no questions. He simply read a rambling, thoroughly unhinged statement in a quavery voice. It was a statement that blamed gun violence in America on everything except guns. Video games, violence in movies, song lyrics, people who want to control the easy accessibility of guns, the general culture and on and on. What he didn't say was that all those things he alluded to could apply to any other industrialized nation in the world and yet no other nation in the world has the problem with gun violence that we do. No other nation in the world has a Wayne LaPierre and an NRA. I think there may be a connection.
Charles Blow wrote about this in his column today and referenced some data about the effectiveness of stricter gun control laws.
The simple truth is that more guns equal more death.
An analysis this year from the Violence Policy Center found that “states with low gun ownership rates and strong gun laws have the lowest rates of gun death.” The report continued, “by contrast, states with weak gun laws and higher rates of gun ownership had far higher rates of firearm-related death.” According to the analysis, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut had the lowest per capita gun death rates. Each of those states had “strong gun laws and low gun ownership rates. On the other hand, “ranking first in the nation for gun death was Louisiana, followed by Wyoming, Alabama, Montana, and Mississippi.” Those states had “weak gun laws and higher rates of gun ownership.”That is some pretty stark evidence, but, of course, the NRA and its allies don't accept that stinking "science," or "evidence," or "data" stuff. No, no, they know what they know, what their gut tells them, and they will not be moved!
So, LaPierre wants to solve the gun violence problem by putting an armed guard in every school in the country. First and foremost, does he have any idea what that would cost? Would the NRA be willing to pick up the tab for that? Secondly, many schools do have armed guards. Columbine, back in 1999, had an armed guard. It didn't stop the massacre there. Thirdly, are we also going to put armed guards in malls, theaters, churches, every venue where people gather? After all, even though they are the most gut-wrenching, it isn't only elementary schools where these massacres take place.
As Gail Collins, writing in The New York Times today, pointed out:
The idea that having lots of guns around is the best protection against gun violence is a fairy tale that the N.R.A. tells itself when it goes to sleep at night. But an armed security officer at Columbine High School was no help. And history also shows that armed civilians generally freeze up during mass shootings — for good reason, since usually the only way a crazed gunman gets stopped is when he runs out of ammunition. So what we continue to have is an excellent argument for banning weapons that spray lots of bullets. (My emphasis.)The old argument of the NRAistas that "guns don't kill people, people kill people" is specious in the extreme. Of course, guns kill people! Guns wielded by mentally deranged or just uncontrollably angry people kill people in this country every day, some 30,000 people a year. While LaPierre was hogging the attention of the news networks with his embarrassing performance yesterday, three people died from a rampage by a gunman in Pennsylvania, before he, too, was killed by police. If the killer had not had access to that gun, he might have still harmed someone with a knife. It is highly unlikely that he would have been able to kill three innocent people before he was stopped.
And so it goes every day in America. But we can stop this. The NRA has been exposed for the lobbyist of the gun manufacturers and sellers that they represent. They don't represent the ordinary hunter or sports gun owner who may be a member of their organization. A majority of their members also want tighter gun laws. Who will represent them?