In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, pundits, politicians, bloggers, and Facebook friends are talking about gun control. Some are saying that it is too soon to have a discussion on gun control – that is a highly hypocritical position to take though. The people that say it is “too soon” are the same people that demanded answers from Obama hours following the Benghazi crisis. Tragedies are tragedies, and there is no time limit before the factors of such events should be discussed, no matter how badly your personal beliefs may be impacted.
No, this is exactly the time gun control should be discussed. If it is not discussed now, it will continue to fall to the wayside as it has for the past decade. It’s incredibly obvious to most Americans that *something* should be done to try and avoid future mass killings – however the limits of what that something is needs some serious focus. This should not be a discussion what we think might work, or how we can continue to preserve the “liberties” of our country’s citizens by protecting the 2nd Amendment. Instead, our leaders should be looking at countries around the world, and improving on systems of gun control that work far better than ours. The United States ranks 12th in terms of gun-related deaths per population, the only Western society in the top 15. Our allies in England still have the freedom to own firearms, and are far less likely to die in a gun related homicide (The US has about a factor 7500% more gun related homicides than England – that is not a typo).
The biggest problem facing meaningful legislation in the United States is the National Rifle Association. The NRA is by far the most powerful and influential lobby in Washington DC, as determined by a survey of lawmakers in Washington. If you’re wondering where the organization gets its money, well that’s a question nobody can answer. You see, the NRA is setup as a 501(c)(4) organization, the same as the Super PACs that spent billions of dollars in our last election. This means that the organization can collect unlimited amounts of money from anonymous sources and spend it freely. It’s widely speculated that even though the NRA collects small amounts of money from it’s 4.4 million members, the majority of its income is raised from gun industry corporate partners.
If you think the NRA is capable of rational debate and conversations, think again. Since the shooting last Friday, the NRA has declined comment of any kind. They have even shut down the social media arm by blacking out its Facebook page and stopped tweeting. In 2008 when President Obama reached out to NRA president Wayne LaPierre, LaPierre responded with “Why should I or the N.R.A. go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States?” The NRA is not in the business of rational discussion – it’s in the business of keeping its constituents happy. LaPierre earns close to $1 million dollars a year from the organization, and since it’s his job to force the legislation that keeps the gun industry moving, you can bet that’s what he’ll do – regardless of how many innocent first graders die.
And if you happen to think the Newtown tragedy was enough to overpower the grasp of the NRA on politicians, you guessed it, think again. Both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times have reported that Senator Joe Manchin, a gun advocate Democrat from West Virginia has come out and said that reform must be looked into, but must be done with the NRA at the table. Manchin says “I’ll go over and sit down with them and say, ‘How can we take the dialogue to a different level?” It is the epitome of “democracy for sale” when our leaders cannot make a decision for themselves without first consulting a lobby. There is a certain irony when our leaders are “fighting for our freedoms” while they are not free themselves when it comes to making a decision to better our society.