Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
Big organizations lobbying to stop gun violence, here’s the sign to post in your offices: “The handgun, Stupid.” Gun violence groups’ obsession with assault rifles and automatic weapons is more about the posturing and political points they hope that they can score short-term than it is about addressing the real causes of gun deaths and injuries in America:
Handguns, and their improper storage and use.
Can the anti-gun violence organizations really tackle the armed 400 lb. gorilla in the room?
The gun safety groupthink seems to be that they have no winning point to beat back the hell and fury that the National Rifle Association will unleash on anyone talking about taking away Joe Citizen’s handgun. Even if granpa Joe left it out for his grandson who just blew away his granddaughter, or if Joe had a bit too much to drink at his favorite tavern, wandered back to his car, found his trusty sidearm, and started unloading it into the patrons of the bar one night. Or wandered home and shot his wife and ate his gun after reading the latest eviction notice topping the stack of unpaid bills.
What are the leading causes of gun death in America? Based upon our American Gun Victims Wall coverage, nationally the top ten are:
This may shock NRA true believers, but “crime”like armed robbery or physical assault by unknown assailants is low on the list after family, friends, and neighbors. Even many “robberies” are by people with a social history with the victim.
Most mass shootings, defined as four or more people, are not at schools like Sandy Hook or Columbine, or a movie theater. They’re at home, work, or, most often, a bar or club. Mayors Against Illegal Guns put out a study which the Washington Post picked up that suggests that there is about one mass shooting per month in America.
Bar fights and other petty beefs, all domestic in nature, are the majority of this class of gun death and injury.
Domestic disputes are the overwhelming source of American gun violence. They’re not just domestic violence, either.
They are the arguments and petty squabbles of friends, neighbors, and strangers in which the gun forms the punctuating period at the end of the final word. They’re the eraser for the mathematical equation of love triangles. The road rage taken over the edge. The bar fight that ends in bullets, not fists.
Gun safety groups’ fixation with assault weapons is like lobbying for the banning of Formula 1 race cars from freeways in an attempt to reduce speeding and traffic deaths on America’s highways.
Yes, it is that ridiculous.
Most press less for handgun legislation because the more lethal semi-automatic pistols that are found in the majority of shootings are not really very sexy and so commonplace as to be ignored. Sandy Hook gets attention. In some places, a death by a firearm in a local town may warrant no more than a sentence from the local paper, if that.
Assault weapons are big. They’re baaad. They’re headline-grabbing news.
Anti-gun violence groups, like early anti-smoking groups, keep playing on the monied courts of the industry. The gun manufacturers and the NRA always frame the debate.
They call it gun control. They play on the terror-strings of a group of fearful people who already bought guns to protect themselves from the bogeymen that the industry has them taught to fear by scaring them even more about banning all guns.
The auto industry bucked safety for decades. Years of putting the death and injury statistics out into the public mindset slowly won life-saving features like seat belts, airbags, mandatory insurance, and improved traffic laws even though the industry fought most of it at every turn.
Safety and public welfare are the primary functions of government. Yet we have so few laws that really address gun safety, mostly because the gun safety lobby has earned a big fat F for failing to make safety sexy.
All gun owners who are homeowners, if they don’t want their insurance cancelled, already insure for gun liability at home. Their insurance carrier increases their premium for what they might do in the home with their weapon(s) , based on the actuarial tables that tell the people who pay out that guns are liabilities. Even small injuries can mean million dollar claims.
Many gun owners don’t have insurance. Renters. Folks who live in generational homes like farms. Just as we did with the automobile, it’s time to make sure that everyone who owns a gun has coverage.
Those who carry their weapons out, either concealed or in approved storage in a vehicle, should all have property and bodily injury insurance for that weapon. An umbrella policy for the liability. If you defend yourself from “bad guys” and miss, you should be liable for the damage that you do to property and bystanders.
All gun owners should be required to provide proof-of-insurance to law enforcement officers.
Some might say that this will add to the illegal gun trade, but it would actually reduce it. If police could impound any weapon where the owner did not have the proper insurance, the routine stops that produce uninsured weapons would remove more illegal guns from the streets. Most death and injury comes from legally obtained weapons anyway.
A large number of the domestic violence calls ending in shootings are long-simmering problems, often well known to the police.
Smoking was de-mystified over forty years. A big push was education to the dangers. States and the anti-gun groups should be providing far more money to massively re-educate Americans. Guns may not kill, but they’re sure used by the majority of people to finish arguments because they’re convenient. Educate people to back away and think before they react and shoot.
Pressure needs to be brought to bear on the film, television, gaming, Internet and recording industries to end the lust-cult of gun glorification in media. Mothers will gladly send their kids to watch a couple of hundred people brutally slaughtered, but freak out if a breast is exposed for a quarter second on camera. That messaging needs re-education.
America’s fear-soaked culture is not going away. We told you about the whole culture of the gun and its history in “In Guns We Trust.” As the SCOTUS defines the 2nd Amendment, neither are guns. Millions of Americans hunt and sport shoot and should be able to exercise their free right to do so. People who believe that guns protect them, and want one in their home, should be able to do so.
Applying the same product safety standards that we use for other common, potentially lethal products in our world to deal with those who misuse them should be a no-brainer. If only the elected officials bought off by the industry weren’t no-brainers…
My shiny two.