America has a serious gun problem. No, I’m not talking about the responsible gun owner who has a couple bolt action rifles and a shotgun locked in a safe for hunting, or the individual with a concealed carry permit packing a Colt 1911 .45 inside their jacket because they carry a lot of cash. There’s many reasons why someone would need or want to own a gun that fall within the realm of reasonable probabilities.
Unfortunately, over the last couple of decades, thanks largely to the NRA, America has developed an absolute fetish with guns. Coupled with a serious, untreated mental health issue in this country, the NRA’s campaign of fear to sell as many guns as possible to an ever-shrinking segment of gun nuts has resulted in the gun violence problem we have today. Even as the overall violent crime rate has diminished, we continue to witness tragedies like Aurora and Sandy Hook, committed by mentally unstable individuals who should have never had the chance to get their hands on a gun.
Logic should dictate that the NRA, the gun lobby and those who are gun enthusiasts would promote responsible usage of guns. Instead, the NRA has morphed from an organization for hunters, collectors, and target shooters into a propaganda machine for gun manufacturers hyping the paranoid fear that there’s bad guys around every corner, just waiting for their chance to steal, rape and kill. In this dark, imaginary world, the only way to be safe is to buy guns, guns, and more guns.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t bad people out there; every day we see stories on the news of another bank robbery, a mugging or someone raped and murdered. And there are regular stories of a “good guy with a gun,” one of which happened recently here in the Lafayette, LA area where a family member shot and killed a man holding his cousin hostage at knife point. However, for every one of these stories, we see countless more where a child uses an easily accessible gun to kill themselves, a sibling, or shoot up a school. And every time we have a tragedy like Sandy Hook, out comes the gun lobby to say that the only thing to make us safer is, you guessed it, more guns.
We are the most heavily armed country in the world and yet, thanks to people like John Lott, we’re still told over and over that we need more. When are we going to finally realize that more guns do not equal greater safety? We have a failed war on drugs, an education system slipping behind the rest of the world, and ever-growing economic inequality. There’s no amount of guns that will solve this problem, America simply cannot shoot away all of the problems that lead to our culture of desperation and violence. Yet that’s what the NRA preaches over and over again. More guns, more guns, more guns. Can you imagine any other industry pushing their product in such an irresponsible and dangerous manner, all while screwing over real sportsmen?
I own a few guns, including a .243 bolt action hunting rifle and a 12 gauge pump shotgun but I would never, ever join the NRA. The rights of responsible gun owners and sportsmen are indeed under attack, but it isn’t from President Obama or the other boogeymen cooked up by the far right. Our rights as Americans and gun owners are being infringed upon by the actions of the NRA and the gun manufacturers they represent. By pandering to the lunatic anti-government militia types and loudly screaming that any sort of sensible legislation on guns is exactly the same as Hitler, the NRA is actually hurting those of us who don’t buy into the Infowars-style paranoid delusions of an invasion by the United Nations and FEMA death camps.
We can live in a country where we can have guns and access to affordable health care, including mental care for those who need it. It is possible to have income equality and programs to lift people out of the endless cycle of poverty and violence instead of continuing to jail people for things as minor as marijuana possession or being homeless. But as long as the NRA pushes it’s “gun sales at any cost” fear campaign, we as a nation are continuing the slow march to irrelevance, and ruin.
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