Friday, December 21, 2012

The NRA: A Predictable Response

Today the National Rifle Association (NRA) finally broke its silence about the massacre of innocents and their teachers in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012.

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president rejected the idea of stronger gun legislation in favor of placing "...armed police officers in every single school in this nation." LaPierre goes on to declare, "Innocent lives might have been spared, if armed security was present at Sandy Hook. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." (Rachel Rose Hartman, NRA Newtown Response, Yahoo News)

LaPierre and the NRA are irrational and dangerous.The difference between a good guy with a gun and a bad guy with a gun is indistinguishable until they shoot someone. Mass shooters are typically people who decide on a particular day to murder a lot of people. If they had been a "bad guy" and made a practice of shooting large groups of people, I seriously doubt that they would still be allowed to wander about with a gun. The NRA's position makes no sense to anyone capable of rational thought.

The problem lies with the number of guns owned in America, the type of weapons, and the type of ammo. Even a good guy can have a bad day and the last thing that we need are a bunch of armed people patrolling the halls of our schools unless the NRA can come up with a fool proof test to determine who is a good guy and who is a bad guy.

The NRA also tries to shift the focus to violent movies and video games. The problem is that numerous studies have concluded that exposure to such material is not the causative factor in American gun violence.

A Facebook friend argues that it isn't about the tool used by the perpetrator of mass violence, but about our "social celebration of violence as an answer to problems and as a way to fame."

I agree that we need to deal with our culture of violence, but the tools do make a difference. In addition, when data of other types of crimes is compared with crime rates of other cultures, the U.S. doesn't appear to be any more violent than other developed countries except in the area of gun violence.

We are not a more violent nation, if we look at overall crime rates. It is only in the area of gun violence that the U.S. drastically exceeds other nations. (National Vital Statistics Report, CDC, October 2012)

While we kill 11,000 to 12,000 of our fellow citizens each year with guns; England and Wales have about 50 gun homicides a year -- 3% of our rate per 100,000 people. The U.S. has more gun-related killings than any other developed country. (Max Fisher, WorldViews, 12/14/12 Washington Post).

Changing cultural norms takes an inordinate amount of time and in the meanwhile, this nation has a murder by gun rate that far exceeds that of comparable developed nations.

A single person with a semi-automatic gun with a magazine capable of rapidly firing multiple rounds is bound to have a higher kill count than someone with a shovel. Lanza killed 26 people in approximately 10 minutes. This pretext that tools don't matter is dangerous and nonsensical. Who would you rather face--a person armed with a shovel or a person armed with a glock?

The countries that have enacted stringent gun controls have seriously lowered their rates of death by gun violence

The NRA offers a ludicrous solution--let's arm the good people to fight the bad people, as if good people and bad people are separate species. Anyone has the potential to commit an act of violence and we don't know that they are a "bad person" until they do so. Some of those "good people" that the NRA would arm may get pissed off one day and become a bad person with a gun.

We have to stop coming up with overly simplistic solutions based on fallacies about human nature. There is no such thing as a criminal until a person commits a crime. We have more people in prison proportionate to our population than any other country. I'm not worried about criminals running around with guns. It's those law abiding citizens, armed to the teeth that worry me. Up until last Friday, Adam Lanza wasn't a criminal.

The CDC has gun death stats for 2011.