As of this morning, 5/6/2013, there have been 3,852 gun deaths since the Newtown massacre. SOURCE
In fiery rhetoric you would expect to see in a Thomas Paine pamphlet over 200 years ago or on the floor of St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia back in 1775 when convention delegate Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech, Wayne LaPierre has also stoked the emotional fires of NRA delegates in Houston, Texas this last weekend. The big difference is that LaPierre is rousing the crowds not for a threat to any real loss of personal liberty but for a straw man argument that protects the special interests and profits of the gun industry.
LaPierre and NRA president, David Keene along with other gun advocates were trying to appeal to a sense of patriotism that has been exploited over the yeas to ensure that facts about sane gun control measures don’t take root in the perceptive minds of most of their members. But this effort seems to be failing since recent polls show that 74% of NRA members are supportive of legislation that “requires a universal back-ground check for all gun sales”. Even in Secessionist Texas where the NRA has surprisingly only a slight edge of being trusted more than President Obama concerning gun issues – 47% vs. 43%, a clear majority of Texans – 49% to 41% - favor a ban on assault style weapons.
So the emotional appeals by LaPierre that affirm “We will never surrender our guns, never,” is a misleading affirmation that distorts what the public really wants following the senseless mass killings we’ve been experiencing in the last few years. The view that somehow any legislation currently being debated in Congress or in town hall-style meetings across the nation is a move to suppress gun owner’s rights or remove any firearm from their homes is a dishonest approach by an NRA leadership that serves more at the whims of the gun manufacturer industry than it does to its own membership.
How many more classrooms. How many more street corners.
How many more shopping malls. How many more movie theaters.
How many more college campuses. Enough!
As a dad. As a mom.
As a husband. As a wife.
As a family. As a friend.
As an American.
It’s time. We can’t back down.
It’s time for our leaders to act. Right now.
from the YouTube presentation of Cartoonists Demand Action to End Gun Violence
In his appeal at the Houston convention, LaPierre kept invoking the inclusive “we” as he attacked those who advocate reasonable restraints on the sell of certain assault-style weapons to those who have a criminal background or have proven to be mentally incompetent to handle firearms in a safe and responsible manner. By identifying all members of the NRA as targets of attack by gun control advocates, LaPierre is trying to insulate himself and other NRA administrators from the criticism that has been aimed solely at their incomprehensible rationale for opposing any and all legislation on any and all guns.
“Our feet are planted firmly in the foundation of freedom, unswayed by the winds of political and media insanity,” LaPierre said. “To the political and media elites who scorn us, we say let them be damned.” Even uber-conservative supreme court justice Anton Scalia has conceded that some forms of gun regulation are NOT unconstitutional.
What is important to highlight here is that LaPierre and the message machine out of the NRA and other lobbyists for the gun industry are invoking a method that exploits that unknown fear element which resides in the human DNA. The promotion of a slippery slope meme plays into the worst scene scenario fears that tend to exist in all of us. Stoking such fears with reference to Hitler’s Germany and Saddam Hussein’ Iraq allows people like Wayne LaPierre to remind the NRA membership of how tyranny can grow when we “let our guard down”. But these are exaggerations of the reality about gun ownership and omits certain facts about citizens in those cultures being too willing to surrender to the charismatic allures of ruthless leaders long before it was obvious their personal liberties were being taken from them.
The worst scene scenario being generated by LaPierre if gun control measures of any dimension are instituted is that it will lead to those conditions of tyranny we read about in history books. There is little to no basis for this zealous reaction in America today. There are numerous safeguards in place to prevent this within our judicial system and state legislatures along with the fierce support for the basic premises of the 2nd amendment that are well imbedded within even those who do not own a firearm. What seems odd to me here is that if it’s loss of freedom that motivates the NRA leadership, where were they when our privacy rights were being eroded under the gun-friendly Bush administration and GOP congressional majorities?
What will be lost here however if background checks on all gun sells is implemented is market share for many gun manufacturers. Outside of those periods similar to what we recently experienced when gun sells spiked out of fear following Obama’s election in 2008 and re-election in 2012, purchases will level off amongst “responsible” gun owners. But sells to those people we want to keep guns away from will start to dry up, since they will no longer be able to easily purchase their weapon of death. Society will benefit from this not because it prevents all murders and suicides but because it will likely effect a smaller toll on humans without the powerful impact of rapid fire bullets that can kill so many so quickly.
Wayne Lapierre confidently assures us that the Manchin-Toomey bill that failed to reach a 60-vote majority in the Senate last month would not have stopped the awful slaughter of 20 children and six of their teachers at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last December. This sleight of hand comment has little to do with what Manchin-Toomey may have ultimately effected however if someone like Jared Loughner, James Holmes or Seung-Hui Cho were prevented easy access to powerful assault weapons with 30-round magazines.
For those of us who think Manchin-Toomey didn’t go far enough it is laughable to hear the NRA leadership describe it as “an assault on our 2nd amendment rights”. Other than trying to keep guns out of the wrong hands by expanding back ground checks the bill also wanted to increase penalties against gun trafficking and invest in school safety. There was nothing in it to represent a gun registry that was falsely alluded to by NRA spokesperson Cleta Mitchell in a recent NY Times debate. There was nothing in it to register existing guns owned by individuals. Nothing to validate the generated-fear of taking anyone’s gun away.
Imagine the lives that would have been saved had Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho been forced to use the weapon above for his insanity had laws been in place to prevent him from purchasing the one’s he chose below.
To listen to the rhetoric that piled up, one speech after the other, by dupes of the gun industry, you couldn’t help but walk away from the NRA’s convention in Houston thinking we were on the verge of being over run by jack-booted government thugs. American citizens, including those members of the NRA, have nothing to fear from implementing a measure of sanity to our out-of-control gun crime in this country. But gun manufacturer gun lobbyists like the NRA do stand to lose healthy financial benefits if they fail to deliver for their benefactors.