Now that the flint hearted politicians have finished picking over the corpses of last Sunday’s mass murder, looking to score electioneering points, let’s not forget those Orlando victims as quickly as we have forgotten the victims of past atrocities. The TV’s talking heads continue to spin the story and try to give it an appropriate label, hate crime, terrorism, mental health issues. But we should try to not lose sight of the real culprit behind the cancer that is gun crime in the USA: The North American Rifle Association (NRA). The big money and lobbying of the NRA and it’s never ending blackmailing of lawmakers to support it or risk being destroyed is by far the biggest single reason for that attack and similar attacks in schools, or in movie theatres or just about anywhere else for half a century. In Orlando nearly 50 people were killed but will that be enough? If not how many will be enough: 100 maybe a 1000, how many will be enough for people to realise that the NRA have in effect been the authors of a slow burning genocide, a genocide against the American way of life. Genocide is an emotive word I know, I live in a country where to utter it can land you in prison or even get you killed. But what other word can be used to describe culpability in the gun related deaths of more than 1.5 million people over 50 years if not a genocide?
Photo by Adam Y Zhang
Unfortunately, like with many things in America it boils down to power and money. The power of the NRA and the money it’s members donate so they can lobby the government, media and threaten anyone who attempts to control guns. Did you know that if you wanted to buy 100 assault rifles and ammunition, you could do so quite easily in many states, even if you are on a terrorist watch list, by simply showing a copy of your drivers licence at a gun show or scanning in a copy to allow you to buy on-line without ever having any physical contact whatsoever with the seller. Most gun owners have been conditioned by the NRA to trot out the same tired phrase about it being their democratic right to carry arms because it is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the American Constitution as a ‘right to bear arms.’ But few will go on to explain that the amendment was only hastily made at a time of revolution, war and nationwide crisis in the late 1700’s when America had barely a rag tag army of militiamen to defend itself. So why does it still need such a law today when it is now the most heavily armed superpower on the planet? Is America really in imminent danger of invasion or is it simply about the arms manufacturers protecting their billion dollar industry?
Despite many attempts to control guns the country is still a hostage to the gun manufacturers who hijacked the NRA from the hunters and amateur marksmen, who ran it like a small club until the 1970’s. They then quickly turned it into the political lobbying monster we know today, which has ensured that for every 100 people (including children) there are actually 113 guns – 113 Why!? To put that into context just look at the UK were there are only 6 guns for every 100 people. Guns equal death – that is after all, with a few exceptions why guns were invented. So you won’t be surprised to learn that the difference in death rate from guns in the USA and UK is also astronomical. For every single gun related death in the UK there are almost 50 deaths in the USA.
Photo by Universallogic
Over the years the NRA has advocated 101 different reasons to keep the lucrative gun industry rolling along unhindered by legislation. The latest of course in the wake of 9/11 is the ever present threat of Terrorism… but is it really a threat in the USA today. Yes terrorism exists we all saw what happened in Paris and Brussels, the horrors man inflicts on other men day after day in other parts of the world, on our news feeds but can the NRA or anybody else really use terrorism as the latest bogey man under the bed to limit anyone’s meaningful attempts at gun control? They can’t, they really can’t because when it boils down to it, excluding the events of 9/11 there are more people killed using guns in almost any random period of 3 or 4 weeks in America than have ever been killed through terrorism, not just gun deaths, in the last 50 years! I would also argue that the NRA’s heavy handed methods used to prevent any meaningful gun control has created and perpetuated a different kind of terrorism from within against the American system of government and its people, a terrorism that has claimed more American lives than all the wars that the USA has ever fought in.
Poor Gun Control = Self-inflicted Terrorism
America has been at the forefront of fighting terror and rooting out and censuring the supporters and financers of terror all around the world. So how is it possible that the NRA are allowed to constantly side-step any censure despite its own form of terrorism when it uses threats and its big money to maintain an iron grip on the nations lawmakers so it can thwart any attempts at gun control? If the NRA’s activities are directly or indirectly responsible for the majority of gun related deaths and crime involving a firearm in America, what makes them so different from terrorists? By any measure being even partly culpable for the unnecessary deaths of over 1,500,000 people is a an enormous crime against humanity. If the NRA ever appeared on any list of terrorist organisations based on its influence on lethality, they would be way ahead of the likes of Al Qaida, Hezbollah, Al Shabaab and yes Islamic State and top that list by a country mile. So next time you see some politician spinning the fear of terrorism as a reason for the USA to keep the gun laws as they are; don’t just view these people as NRA backed lobbyists but try and view them for what they really are: the purveyors of death and destruction, the facilitators of a slow burning genocide against the American people. Because no matter which way you cut it, even accepting that a high proportion of gun deaths are actually suicides, more than 33,000 deaths a year is a truly enormous loss of life by anyone’s standards.
Photo by Robb & Jessie Stankey
Think about it just for a minute… If there are hardly any guns there is a lot less death, a lot less crime and of course the overstretched prison system could be cut to a fraction of what it is today. Just think about the money saved by not having to incarcerate 100,000 gun related criminals at a cost of anything up to $60,000 per head per year. Add to that gun related social, economic and state financed medical costs and things like early retirement through injury etc. and of course a dramatic reduction in the need for police and law enforcement agencies like the FBI and it is not just billions but trillions of tax dollars people, trillions of dollars. Money that could then be used instead for other things like a cheaper or even a free heath care system, better schools and roads and hell yes, much lower taxes.
Photo by Ccmerino
It is high time that the straw that the NRA has been able to cling to for far too long through bribes, threats and the character assignation of good people was broken. History has proven that the right to bear arms clause in the Second Amendment should have been struck out or severely amended as far back as the civil war. However, even for the most ardent president striking it out would seem inconceivable at this moment in history but a sensible amendment may not be beyond the realms of possibility if it ever came to a vote. Amending the amendment might be possible if enough people believed in it and a few good lawmakers had the guts to not only ignore the NRA but also severely file down that monsters unnecessarily shape teeth.
Unfortunately like a drug pusher who gives away free samples of drugs to hook his future customers or big tobacco, who did the same with cigarettes the NRA has made us believe perversely that the answer to too many guns is bigger and more powerful guns. They know that as a nation the USA now seems well and truly hooked on guns just in-case. But if you take most of the guns off the street and implement a tighter system of checking and licensing, which most sensible gun owners cannot argue against, then you probably won’t even need that gun under your pillow anymore.
The arguments against guns are not rocket science so why are the NRA able to get away with their dark activities, which seem to benefit just a few weapons and ammo manufactures and hard core gun enthusiast at the expense of a more functional and less fearful society? They block all attempts at government research because the results will be a no brainer, a great big no to things like assault rifles and a great big yes to things like background checks (which the NRA has successfully resisted even for people on terrorist watch lists and people with mental health issues). Why is that? Because once there is a report against guns people can begin to think about suing the culprits. The NRA saw what happened to big tobacco who tried to go against the science that linked cigarettes to unnecessary death and ultimately lost billions. That is why they keep their iron grip of the legislative process to block even the research that would contribute to a meaningful discussion about gun ownership. But time and public opinion is moving against them. How long now before a class action against them for perpetuating the bloody murder on the streets? Oh yes the NRA are very rich but so too are many of the ever increasing victims of gun crime. A few hundred dollars a head times 1.5 million or ten times that if you include people injured by guns. Now that really would be some day in court.
Finally, who am I to talk, I don’t even live in America. But when I look at other internal conflicts of the world it is hard not to feel compassion for the people of those conflicts and the innocent victims: Syria, Ukraine, Nigeria all this loss of life makes me feel sad. Yet when our newsfeeds suddenly burst into life with yet another mass shooting in the USA I sometimes feel extra sad, because deep down I know, as most Americans know that it is preventable if only there was a will to shake off the yoke that is the NRA. As for who will do that, I have no idea – someone brave, someone with a much bigger voice than mine. But as someone who was murdered by a rifle that came to his assassin in the mail once said, sometimes you must do some things:
“not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win …”
Photo by Ccmerino