Archive for May 28, 2014

If you’re like me, many of your friends took to Facebook to express themselves regarding last week’s tragedy at Isla Vista, California. Some posts expressed outrage, but none expressed surprise. There was a pervading sense of resignation, that this is just the way things are in America. It’s as though we feel powerless to do anything to prevent future occurrences.

Like virtually every other mass killing in the United States, this one involved guns. I realize that the first victims at Isla Vista were stabbed to death, but after that, Elliot Rodgers used his arsenal of semi-automatic weapons to kill, injure and inflict terror in his community.

Let’s be clear: Semi-automatic weapons are designed and manufactured for a single purpose, to kill human beings as efficiently as possible. The primary reason this country can’t impose reason controls on such devices is the National Rifle Association. The NRA is generally considered to be the most effective lobbying organization in America.

According to a 2012 article, the NRA spends ten times more money to lobby Congress than all of the anti-gun violence organizations combined. As a consequence, Congress does the bidding of the NRA rather than Americans as a whole. Nine of every ten Americans support expanding background checks on all firearms sales–something that even the majority of NRA members support. And yet, because the NRA as a lobbying organization opposes such efforts, Congress fails to act.

So, what to do? Those of us in favor of sensible and reasonable gun laws need to put our money where our mouths are. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, I began making a monthly donation to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. There are other similar organizations, but the Brady Campaign is one of the older ones. It’s unfortunate that these organizations are not united because we need them all working in concert in order to effectively countering the NRA.

The NRA claims that the way to counter gun violence is with more guns, but the United States already has more guns per capita than any other country, and far more shootings per capita than any other country. Why should we think that even more guns will produce a different result?

The NRA perpetuates the culture of gun violence that Rodgers found so intoxicating. After he brought home his first handgun, he wrote:

After I picked up the handgun, I brought it back to my room and felt a new sense of power. I was now armed. Who’s the alpha male now, bitches? I thought to myself, regarding all of the girls who’ve looked down on me in the past.

The NRA stands for this kind of gun culture. It represents the gun manufacturers who profit from it. We need to counter the NRA in the only way Congress understands: with money and power. We need to honor the victims of these shootings.

We need to start now.

Advertisements