Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
The Navy Yard: Another mass shooting has TV and newspapers selling soap with a notable corpse count. At the American Gun Victims Wall, three times that number are tallied up each week, but you don’t see them because most folks don’t care.
Talking heads searching for answers latch on to video games. The real problem though starts and ends with y-o-u.
Your apathy to the commonplace violence in your community. Your belief that it either will never visit you. It’s a “crime” problem of the inner city, or someplace far-far away from you.
OR you live with the certainty that gun violence will visit you, and that you must arm yourself for that day and live with the fear of it every day.
Either way, Uncle Smith and Uncle Wesson need YOU to play the game.
Sure, the NRA should take some blame for stripping every law that doesn’t sell guns for their board members in the gun biz, but the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Moms Against Gun Violence and Mothers and Others Against Gun Violence and and and… fracture the outrage into ineffective splinter groups who take their share of the blame too.
Groups that oppose gun violence often lack unity of mission and purpose. The NRA is a cohesive, deep-pocket the 800-ton gorilla with K Street Lobbyists who act like Navy Seal teams to tactically shut down even a whisper about gun violence reform.
These groups need to be one group. One strong voice.
To be fair, they have a bigger problem, which is that they can’t get enough of the American public, YOU, behind them. Gun advocates will say this is because they’re wrong, but it has more to do with other factors.
FEAR – Most gun advocates bought guns because their fear of violence being done to them is so strong that the only thing that assuages it is being prepared at all times for that moment where they have to use one. 48% of respondents in March 2013 told Pew that protection was their primary reason for owning a gun, up 22% from the 1990s. Hunting was down 17% over the same time, and other “sport” related uses of a gun were barely a blip. 
Apathy – Those who lack that fear, or who fear legions of the armed with minimal training and who-knows-what careening around their brains, don’t seem to be motivated enough to stand behind these groups, even when polling is trending towards better screening of gun owners.
Disinformation – The NRA and the gun lobby have the money and the experience at framing the debate that pro-regulatory forces do not. The term “Gun control” was introduced with the Gun Control Act of 1968, which, ironically, the NRA supported. The NRA did not go on its Second Amendment crusade until the rise of the far Right revolution in the post Nixon-Carter 1970s. Subsequently the term “gun control” has been used by the weapons makers, and the organizations that represent their interests, to stir up the fear that even the smallest of laws is the slippery slope to a gun ban. 
The NRA has blurred the root causes of gun violence, which are lost on not only average Americans, but the media and the majority of American politicians.
They frame gun ownership around “crime” and keeping guns out of the hands of “criminals” and “gangs.” They pander to big-W White America’s fear of minorities and urban crime. They organize the fearful.
If a story comes out that they find threatening, they organize like ants and attack to extinguish. Messages are passed around to very proactive gun-clubs and ownership groups, especially online. They stomp on polls and anything that threatens their point of view.
Meanwhile, the NRA keeps the Liberals and pro-reform advocates like Brady tied up in misdirection. They toss up objections to assault weapons bans, and the anti-gun violence crowd takes that bait. Wayne LaPierre says something incendiary that chums the media-shark waters like a bleeding fish, and moves the argument right into the sweet spot where the NRA can stomp the momentum that builds off a Sandy Hook or a Navy Yard debacle.
They are right in one of their slogans though. The real cause of gun violence in America isn’t guns. It is the people who are holding them, BUT, their “criminal” battle cry is a broad lie.
Crime rates have dropped in this country, thanks in part to the one set of laws that pro-gun legislators can’t avoid. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Sept. 5 2013 release shows violent victimization down 76%, household crime victimization was down 48%, and armed motor vehicle victimization down 74% from 1993 to 2010.
More severe penalties for use of a firearm in the commission of a crime, and extended prison sentencing for use of a firearm as an “aggravated circumstance” are a message that seems to have been received.
So here is the shocker that the NRA does not want you to know:
Average “law abiding” Americans are the biggest source of gun violence.
Most people who shoot at others don’t become “criminals” until the weapon is aimed at another human being. How does that happen?
The majority of shootings in America are suicides, 60% of all gun deaths in the last full study, murder-suicides and domestic disputes.
The FBI’s 2011 report, last available, shows that felonious “crime” accounted for 1,816 murders, gang/contract/sniper killings were 695, but non-felonious homicides were 5,976 that year.
The FBI only reports homicides, not gun injuries. It also does not report categories like family annihilators, domestic abuse, and murder-suicides.
Injuries by gun are far more numerous. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence reports that “73,505 Americans were treated in hospital emergency departments for non-fatal gunshot wounds in 2010.” So all of the above are magnified annually by the lucky ones who are gun violence survivors.
These are only reported homicides and injuries as well. Millions of shootings go unreported.
The Bureau of Justice estimates that 52% of all violent crimes, estimated at 3.38 million, go unreported because of the belief that the police can’t help, or fear of reprisal. 38% of domestic violence cases went unreported and 62% of crimes perpetrated by someone known to the victim.
Does the anti-violence lobby put the kind of money behind educating public opinion to the daily reality of gun injury and death in America? No. The NRA narrative tends to dominate the news.
The other leading cause of gun death in America, failure to comply with the police. While no government agency tracks officer-involved shootings, as you can see at the American Gun Victims Wall, many people are shot every week for not following the instructions of the police, trying to run them down with a car, or fleeing the scene of a crime.
ABC News reports: “Officers can begin to see everybody they deal with as being a threat,” said Pierce Murphy, a community ombudsman in Boise. “Not a potential threat but a real threat.”
ABC also reports the disturbing trend that police-involved shootings, what was once a “big city” phenomenon is becoming more frequent in smaller cities and towns.
Are all gun owners bad? No. Like cars, a minority of bad gun owners make the majority look bad.
The problem, though, is with more than one gun for every man, woman and child in this country, and gun ownership collecting into fewer and fewer hands, we have NO IDEA how sane, sober or restrained are any of the people with a gun capable of rendinging death in a split second.
A study just concluded, “The Relationship Between Gun Ownership and Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States, 1981-2010” . It states:
“We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates. Although we could not determine causation, we found that states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.”
While the study did not seek out causation, we at The American Gun Victims Wall, see it every day.
You put a gun into the hands of a normally sane person and that temptation to use the gun to be the final exclamation point in their last word on the subject, or to gain control where they’ve lost it, is the causation.
That’s the connection between the numbers and the reality.
There is no industry that makes money off of gun safety, or reducing gun violence. Which means that the gun industry and their NRA watchdogs will keep us primed for more violence because guns sell themselves in a vicious circle.
They also know that it takes a mass shooting of ten or twelve or fourteen in a white neighborhood, or at a school or place of work, to even have mass shootings become a discussable media incident.
The rest of the death sits in the back of a local section of a newspaper, as a three line blurb on the web, or in 30 seconds of flashing cop lights on the local news. Cut to carpet commercial.
When YOU care, the media will too. Those seeking reasonable reforms to curb violence have to be loud, proud, and focused.
My shiny two.