Orwell has nothing on the current state of American politics. Teenagers who recently witnessed the slaughter of their classmates are being smeared as “actors” and “trained on FBI talking points” by NRA supporters and right-wing gun-zealots. Teenagers in America aren’t allowed to express themselves or grieve publicly because it interferes with the NRA’s narrative. The NRA, a group that has typically fallen back on the line, “Now isn’t the time” to discuss gun control, has been forced to present solutions. The solutions they’ve offered are un-American, dangerous, cynical and at the same time designed to boost gun sales.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday fell in line with the NRA’s talking points and proposed arming teachers. (The NRA spent $30 million dollars boosting Trump’s 2016 campaign and attacking Hillary Clinton’s.)
“This would be obviously only for people who were very adept at handling a gun, and it would be, it’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone,” Trump said.
The right-wing solution to school shootings is, unsurprisingly, to introduce more guns to the situation. Sell guns to teachers who already have to pay for classroom materials, sell guns to schools that have already cut music and gym classes.
It’s clear to most experts–military, law enforcement, etc.–that adding more guns to a situation results in chaos and crossfire. Friendly fire is a problem for the highly trained professionals. Do we really want that in our schools?
I know I don’t. Is there anything more Orwellian than sending our children to what would essentially amount to prisons with armed guards in the name of keeping them safe? While NRA backers screech about not allowing anyone to prevent them from buying a certain model of gun because of the Second Amendment, and insist they need guns to protect America from tyranny, they are watching as the NRA advances corporate tyranny. If it involves a gun, they have convinced themselves it is true and right and equals freedom.
Being terrorized by guns is not freedom. Living in a country where teachers are constantly prepared to shoot students, where neighbor is always prepared to shoot neighbor, is not freedom. It isn’t the basis for a civil society.
The evidence is becoming clearer every day: Guns do not stop crime; in fact, it appears they escalate it. Studies from across the country point to this.
An October 1, 2017, Scientific American article compiled some of these studies.
“Most of this research—and there have been several dozen peer-reviewed studies—punctures the idea that guns stop violence. In a 2015 study using data from the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University reported that firearm assaults were 6.8 times more common in the states with the most guns versus those with the least. Also in 2015, a combined analysis of 15 different studies found that people who had access to firearms at home were nearly twice as likely to be murdered as people who did not.”
Bad guys tend to get hold of guns. Firearms should not be discharged in public places, whether by “bad guys” or “good guys,’ because when gunfire starts, people are likely to get shot. It isn’t a hard concept to understand. But for the NRA, the gun has to be the solution to everything, because the job of NRA spokespersons is to advance the interests of the gun industry. Nuance is not their specialty. They exist to create a reality in which gun ownership is a necessity. ‘Don’t own a gun? Well then you aren’t prepared to protect yourself. It’s your fault you’ve been shot.’ And they are so craven that they would use the slaughter of children to advance that narrative.
I’m not calling for the abolition of guns. That is unrealistic. I’m not advocating that law enforcement storm homes to take guns. I’m advocating for Americans to evaluate the outsized influence the NRA has on America. To recognize the vicious cycle they’ve created and that their base aim is to make money–not protect freedoms.
I’m asking reasonable Americans to stop sending money to the NRA. I’m asking politicians who care about real freedom, the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness, to refuse contributions from the NRA. I’m asking regular Americans who are galled by the NRA’s racist talking points, their treatment of the victims of school shootings, to boycott any business that associates with the NRA.
The NRA has reacted to the backlash it is facing by claiming the media loves school shootings because they juice ratings and audiences respond to fear.
The NRA’s own programming is steeped in racism and fear mongering.
NRA TV host Grant Stinchfield slammed a New York Times report that 30 Americans are victims of gun homicides a day by saying “Blame minorities killing each other not law abiding conservatives.”
NRA TV host Bill Whittle claimed, “blacks commit murder at 11 times the rate of whites alone.”
In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, the NRA issued a video with Spokeswoman Dana Loesch essentially telling NRA members to arm up out of fear of liberal protests. “They use the media, schools and, celebrities to indoctrinate people with “their narrative, Loesch said. They “smash windows, burn cars, shut down interstates and airports, bully and terrorize the law abiding,” concluding the only way to save America, “is to fight this violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.”
In the NRA’s view, guns are vessels for freedom of speech, and also, clearly, a good way to silence the speech it doesn’t like.
The NRA has to end, because it represents a culture of division and violence, of corporate greed and political corruption. The people who represent it have lost all credibility. Caring about guns is not caring about America. At the Conservative Political Action Conference this week Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA, told attendees they should be “nervous” and “frightened” of a Democratic victory in the midterm elections because “If they seize power … our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever,” he said. “The first to go will be the Second Amendment.”
Fear mongering is how the NRA sells guns, collects membership dues and turns out the vote. Intimidation is how it keeps its critics at bay. It’s time we all stop being intimidated.