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Commentary

NRA Props Up Violent Crimes Like a Holster Supports a Gun

By Peter S. Kahrmann

When it comes to promoting a safe society, the horrifying display of gun violence at the Aurora movie theater in Colorado once again underscores the accuracy of the phrase “actions speak louder than words.” Given that, it seems clear to me that the National Rifle Association is a leading supporter of violent crime.

This must change.

Journalist Bill Moyers was right when he said the NRA is the killer instinct’s best friend and, I would add, a great supporter of violent crime.

The facts establish beyond a reasonable doubt that lax gun laws directly contribute to the massive amount of criminal killing and disabling in my country. The NRA instinct to oppose anything that would do so much as slow down people’s ability to buy firearms of any kind no matter their background has proved to be a recipe for death, and I firmly believe the NRA knows this and doesn’t care.

The NRA’s mantra that responsible gun-control measures will only take guns away from good and decent law-abiding citizens falls on its face when confronted with, well, reality. Let’s remember that it was the lack of responsible gun-control measures that made it easy for alleged Colorado shooter James Holmes to buy an assault weapon, shotgun, handgun and 6,000 rounds of ammunition legally.

Another NRA mantra, that criminals will always get guns if they want them, is more of a reason, not less of one, to develop more effective and responsible gun-control measures.

It is the very lack of responsible gun-control measures that makes it easy for criminals to get guns. The NRA knows this, likes this and perpetuates this. The people of this country would be well advised to call out the NRA over its oft-stated claim that it supports the enforcement of current guncontrol laws and the goal of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals for what it really is: utterly delusional or an outright lie. I believe it’s the latter.

Our elected officials should call them out too, but that would require courage and a willingness to risk one’s job to do so. Why would they want to risk their jobs? So what if, as the Children’s Defense Fund reports, more than one million people have been killed with guns in the United States since 1968, the year Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated? So what if 40 percent of gun purchases happen in secondary markets (gun shows) where there are no background checks?

Can any of us imagine living in a country that requires a license as proof that you know how to drive but doesn’t require one – or insurance -- if you buy a used car from a private individual or secondhand dealer?

The NRA opposition to any responsible gun-control measure – including safety checks to make sure guns are well manufactured! – reveals a support for death and injury by gun, whether intentional or by accident.

The NRA doesn’t care, and some of our elected officials don’t care, while others don’t care enough.

They don’t care enough that 39 percent of TBIs (traumatic brain injuries), like mine -- meaning brain injuries caused by external force -- are caused by guns. Nor do they seem to care that the Harvard Injury Control Research Center reports that guns in the home result in higher rates of homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings.

The NRA has a well-documented history of opposing bans on armor- piercing (cop-killing) bullets.

Just as scary, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence recently reported that Florida attorney general and NRA darling Pamela Jo Bondi “filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, seeking reversal of the June 29, 2012, ruling by U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke permanently blocking Governor (Rick) Scott’s doctor gag rule that restricted doctors from informing patients about the proven risks of guns in the home.”

Why would anyone want to stop doctors from simply talking to patients about the proven risks of having guns in the home? Can you imagine being a pediatrician and being told you are not allowed to mention to parents the importance of gun safety?

Talking to families about gun safety does not infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights. And let me just say this: If the founding fathers were to come back to life and tell us that the Second Amendment meant that anyone and everyone can get any kind of firearm they want whenever they want, then we might want to revise or get rid of the Second Amendment altogether.

I don’t for a second think that’s what the founding fathers would say. I think the NRA chants the Second Amendment mantra simply to cover its primary purpose, which is to make as much money from promoting the sale of firearms as it possibly can, death and carnage be damned.

I believe too that the NRA knows its fanatical opposition to responsible gun control and gun safety fuels violent crime, which in turn fuels the NRA’s fear-based sales pitch: You’d better buy a gun to protect yourself.

The NRA is only part of this country’s truly sick relationship with and understanding of guns. One of the most disturbing things I heard in the wake of the brutal shootings in Colorado was a young man saying it was a good thing Holmes could get guns and ammunition legally because it saved lives. This person’s troubling and bizarre reasoning? Had Holmes not been able to buy an assault weapon, shotgun, handgun and 6,000 rounds of ammunition, he would have blown up the theater and killed even more people

This is only one of the sickening and deeply disturbing things I’ve heard from some of those who call themselves gun advocates. Others said that if theatergoers had concealed weapons, they could have shot back. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell right-sized this craziness beautifully: “We would have had, in the dark, a shoot-out battle. Do you know how many (more) innocent people would have gotten killed by the other shots?”

After the Colorado incident, NBC television news anchor Brian Williams asked Mitt Romney, “As a practical matter, do you have a problem with being able to buy 6,000 rounds of ammunition off the Internet?”

Romney’s answer was spineless: “Well, I don`t know that I`m going to be able to find a way to prevent people who want to provide harm from being able to purchase things that could carry out that harm.” So, what are you saying, Mitt? Why bother trying?

Republican strategist Rick Tyler, who opposes gun control, said Holmes was “clearly deranged,” which is what, Rick, an argument against gun control given he bought his arsenal legally?

What the hell is wrong with us?

Part of the answer lies in our addiction to violence. It’s an addiction that finds much of its fuel in the terribly misguided and inaccurate belief (promoted by media, movies, television, some politicians and, yes, religious leaders and, the NRA) that your ability to inflict violence is a true and accurate measure of your strength as an individual.

Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. I know Nelson Mandela or, for that matter, Jesus, as being weak.

Gun carnage will not stop until the people en masse and our elected officials stand up to the NRA and put the safety of the people -- our children! -- first.

In short, safety before financial profit.

Peter Kahrmann is an advocate for people with disabilities. He resides in Massachusetts.


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