It’s time to call the National Rifle Association what it truly is. The NRA is a terrorist organization that radicalizes, enables and protects the rights of white nationalists in an ongoing campaign to boost the sale of deadly weapons. These weapons have become routinely used in the mass slaughter of children. As part of this campaign the NRA has corrupted our very democracy–cowing hundreds of politicians with propaganda and campaign cash–making political contributions and A+ ratings more valuable than the lives of everyday Americans.
On Wednesday, as school children ran for their lives from a deranged, gun-obsessed, alt-right Trump-supporting shooter, conservatives quickly looked for someone new to blame for the epidemic of school shootings that have plagued our country for nearly three decades now.
Who did they decide deserved the blame for the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the massacre that left 17 dead? The children, the victims themselves.
“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!” Trump tweeted before making a public statement.
Alt-right nut job Mark Dice went even further, tweeting: “Someone tell Generation Z kids that in the event of a school shooting, they should call 911 instead of posting video of it on Snapchat. Parkland. Florida.” He was called out by a student at Stoneman Douglas and has since deleted the tweet.
All this work being done to blame the victims isn’t without purpose. It’s a very intentional campaign to spare the NRA from backlash.
When Rep. Paul Ryan and other Congresspeople call for “prayers” and announce that now isn’t the time to discuss gun control, what they are doing is trying to diffuse justified rage at themselves and their benefactors (the NRA) for preventing sensible gun laws and running campaigns that glamorize gun ownership as an act of power and self expression.
Every day is the time to discuss gun control because everyday people are senselessly killed by gun violence. There have been eight school shootings in 2018. Only seven weeks of the year have passed. An ongoing Washington Post analysis “has found that more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.”
Here is the truth about what the NRA has done to America, the damage done by their myth that gun ownership is a part of freedom:
The NRA and its myth have turned America into a war zone. Americans live in constant fear for their children, unlike any other “civilized” society in the world. Yes, America has a health care problem and we need to do more for our mentally ill. But we don’t have more mentally ill people in America than other countries do. What we do have are millions more guns.
I’ve only started waking up to that reality.
As a parent of a young child, I was shocked to see a sign banning firearms from my daughter’s school, because in my mind I was still living in a world where such a sign wouldn’t be necessary. Like many Americans, I’ve been horrified, outraged and saddened into numbness by the body count at American schools.
For the last month, my daughter has been jubilant, knowing that she will soon be moving up to preschool for four-year-olds. She can read grade levels above her age, is always the line leader and loves school like no other child I’ve ever met. When we drive past her expected new school she demands to get out and visit.
On Wednesday, she got her first chance to check out the school we hope she will be able to attend next fall. She played with blocks in the back of the classroom as my wife and I, surrounded by other parents, asked questions of the head of the pre-k program. Ninety percent of the questions asked had to do with safety and school policy on school shootings. My wife later casually referred to it as “AS training.” I replied confused, “What’s AS?”
“Active shooter training?” she rolled her eyes.
These are the kinds of things I’ve purposely forgotten, blocked out of my mind in an attempt to pretend America is the kind of place that actually reflects my values, that it is the kind of place where it was OK to decide to bring new life into the world.
I stood facing the wall behind the teacher’s desk, where a number of pieces of paper detailed the correct response to school shootings. The program director described school shooting drills and how doors are locked, blinds are closed, and children hide in closets. “Are they counseled afterwards?” asked one mother.
I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. My mother grew up during the Cold War and still remembers nuclear drills–covering her head and diving under her desk–as though that might have saved them from nuclear fallout. She now remembers not ever giving it a second thought. We can’t let that happen here. School shootings cannot become normalized. We all need to wake up. I can’t imagine the conversation I have to have with my daughter about why she has to practice hiding from people with guns. I don’t want any other parent to have to have that conversation.
It is a conversation Americans should not have to have. If America were great, it would take lessons from every country in the world that doesn’t have school shooting epidemics. We should ban assault rifles, especially the AR-15, which has been used in so many massacres, and strengthen background checks. But that is only the start. America has the most guns per person of any country in the world. Some estimates put the number at 85 out of 100 people, others at 101 per 100. The countries that rank second and third with this dubious distinction are Serbia and Yemen. We need to confront the reality that the gun industry is glorifying violence, promoting the picture of a world where a gun is the only thing that stands between a white man and “the savages.” That is exactly the message the gun industry is sending. Exactly the NRA is sending. And that is the message that radicalizes susceptible, insecure white males.
Freedom is not defined by the ability to own a firearm, let alone a fully automatic assault rifle. The idea that a well-regulated militia was needed to defend the country died the minute we moved on from musket-loaders. Americans aren’t turning their weapons against despots and tyrants; they are shooting up schools. Some of them play war games in the woods. A very small portion of them hunt to put food on the table. According to a June 22, 2017 Pew Research Poll, 67 percent of gun owners surveyed said they own guns for “protection.” Thirty-eight percent said they own a gun to hunt. A recent Pew Research Poll found 67 percent of gun owners surveyed said they own guns for “protection.” Thirty-eight percent said they own a gun to hunt.
The longer we perpetuate the myth of the gun as a self-defense necessity the longer on country will look like the wild west
I don’t want to live in the wild west. I don’t want to live in a Serbian war zone. My child’s right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness trumps your need to feel like a modern cowboy. If the ability to own a weapon designed to kill dozens of people with one pull of a trigger is key to your personality, you probably don’t belong in a civilized country.
This is the choice America has to make. Are we a civilized society where our citizens’ rights and safety are valued over the rights of a radicalized minority and the industry that benefits from and manipulates them?
Or are we a corporatocracy where politicians act only in the interests of industry, where we throw away the lives of our children to satisfy a Taliban-like group of yahoos who want to believe they are in a struggle for America’s soul rather than actually being industry puppets brainwashed by a false patriotism? Are we a country of people who will allow ourselves to be pitted against each other by corporate politicians while the country falls into senseless violence.
Guns don’t prevent shootings. They may sometimes help capture the bad guys, but in most situations, the more guns present in a situation the more carnage ensues, the more innocent lives are lost.
The politicians the NRA have purchased aren’t stupid; they know guns don’t make them safe. You can’t waltz into government buildings with a gun. You can’t carry in an AR-15 by telling the guard “I’m a good guy. I kill bad guys.”
Government exists to protect its citizens. If this government won’t protect us from gun violence we should rise up and take it back from the corporations that have purchased the rights that we are entitled to.
If Congress failed to act to prevent people from another country from walking into our schools and murdering our children, it’s likely we would be seeing an armed insurrection. Congress has stripped away our freedom of privacy, the government monitors our calls under the guise of protecting us from Islamic terror. The Trump administration wants to build a wall because it says immigrants are such terrible criminals. They want to destroy the very notion our country was founded on–a country of immigrants to be able to fight all sorts of perceived threats.
But they won’t confront the NRA. They won’t dare anger the industry that keeps them elected. They are greedy, self-interested cowards, who have long forgotten, or in many cases never bothered to learn what America really stands for.
White nationalists claim they need guns to keep America free from tyrants. Well, the NRA and the politicians they’ve purchased are a multi-headed hydra of tyranny and death.
Instead of fighting the Corporatocracy white nationalists are threatening violence against gun control supporters–the people who want to see something done about the death of so many innocents.
So what can you do? In New York, we have support legislators who are willing to go without the NRA’s dirty money. That means defeating those who are owned by it. Here is a list of Congresspeople who have earned A+ ratings from the NRA. Support their opponents, but only the ones that don’t pander to the NRA. Call their offices and demand they act to ban the AR-15. Tell them you know that the NRA doesn’t represent freedom–it represents corruption, radicalization, and death. Our two most local representatives John Faso and Elise Stefanik need to hear from you today. I’ve included their contact information.
*Rep. John Faso NY-19
- WASHINGTON, DC OFFICE
- 1616 Longworth HOB
- Washington, DC 20515
- Phone: (202) 225-5614
- Fax: (202) 225-1168
- DELHI DISTRICT OFFICE
- 111 Main Street
- Delhi, NY 13753
- Phone: (607) 746-9537
- KINDERHOOK DISTRICT OFFICE
- 2 Hudson Street
- Kinderhook, NY 12106
- Phone: (518) 610-8133
- KINGSTON DISTRICT OFFICE
- 721 Broadway
- Kingston, NY 12401
- Phone: (845) 514-2322
* Stefanik NY-21
318 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4611
136 Glen Street
Glens Falls, NY 12801
Phone: (518) 743-0964
Fax: (518) 743-1391
23 Durkee Street Suite C
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Phone: (518) 561-2324
Fax: (518) 561-2408
88 Public Square
Watertown, NY 13601
Phone: (315) 782-3150
Fax: (315) 782-1291
* Zeldin NY-1
* Faso NY-19
* Stefanik NY-21
* Tenney NY-22
* Reed NY-23
* Katko NY-24
* Collins NY-27