As the first group diary was on the vague side, I'd like to use this one as a working diary, to work towards establishing a consensus mission statement, identifying the questions surrounding the issue that have greatest merit for discussion, setting of realistic (yes, I know that's an entirely subjective word, but bear with me) legislative goals, and potential avenues to achieve those goals, including identifying existing resources from organizations with similar goals. Below are my (very) rough thoughts on the group purpose, goals, and some possible tactics, and I invite all of you to share your own ideas in the comments below.
First, an explanation of the group name - By 'shut down' the NRA, I'm not advocating making it illegal, forcing it out of business, or anything similar. I simply mean seriously lessening the influence (or stranglehold, some would suggest) it has on all political discourse relating to control of weaponry in the country, as well as it's hold on many members of Congress. The 'amend the second amendment' is a suggestion that the current form of the amendment is vague enough that its interpretation has been shaped by ideologues and 'originalists' who refuse to believe the Constitution might have to change to serve the society that lives under it.
It is my belief that the current phrasing, and the way in which it has been left open to interpretation, has failed modern society, creating the conditions that lead us to lose more than thirty thousand American lives a year to poorly regulated tools.
Widely available statistics show the United States with the highest firearm related death rates of any first world nation, clocking in at almost double the rates of a country such as Canada, and not too far ahead of Mexico. Goals should be objective and measurable, so I might consider a 'goal' to be to reduce US gun fatalities to rates similar to that of Canada, or somewhere between 50 and 60% of what they currently run. This still leaves us at the high end of fatalities for first world nations, but would be a great step forward. (Breakdowns of such numbers by homocide and suicide also suggest reasons as to why current laws may be unsuccessful in preventing such deaths, but we'll get to that in discussion, I'm sure.)
This is, obviously, a political website, so again obviously, any mission statement for the group would be geared towards finding politically enabled pathways to achieve such a goal. Tactics to do so need to include the standard methods of making such changes palatable to the public at large, motivating them to actually apply pressure to their representatives, and finding 'carrots' and 'sticks' to get such legislation passed. We've seen the LGBT community move the country from antipathy to actually embracing marriage equality in a relatively short time frame, and need to learn from them.
Messaging will be important, as will social networking. The outrage from the current tragedy will fade, and even with it fresh, we can see that it's almost entirely focused on preventing mass shootings, when the reality is that the vast majority of firearm related deaths in the country are one-offs.
Again, I would like this to become a 'working group', with useful action to arise from it. To do so, which means starting from a solid base, and to do that means reviewing the already extant groups and people who've been working on such issues for years, to find out not only where successful (in terms of actual outcomes, not just legislative enactment) control laws have been passed, and how they were able to be enacted, but also the ways in which control laws are derailed and blocked, and finally noting which laws, while passed, had relatively little effect, and were largely symbolic.
These were just some initial thoughts. I'd like to open the comments now for your ideas on moving beyond outrage and pain and into substantively addressing the reduction of gun violence, as well as group structural issues. Then, over the next week or so, I'll work to collate those suggestions, and present a synopsis of all the ideas offered, both for group structure and function, and in terms of taking the suggestions towards possible tactics so that we can begin to search out the localities that may have already tried similar methods and evaluate the likely success or failure of such tactics in terms of reduced gun violence. Or if, in fact, the approaches suggested are novel, evaluate them in terms of the ability to be put forth in such a way that they pass Constitutional muster and case law in such jurisdictions as we think might be most open to attempting such.
Personally, I'll also be working on a diary to put forth to the group on the Healthy People 2020 initiative from the CDC on public health, the ways in which gun violence prevention fits into that framework, and my notes on effective legislative advocacy from a presentation I attended from the Ohio Nurses' Association chief lobbyist.
I look forward to your constructive thoughts, ideas, and suggestions for the group and the suggestions I've put forth herein. I strongly discourage comments that are intended to insult second amendment advocates, although I realize that some of them might find certain stances inherently insulting. At this point, I'm hoping the initial heat of the moment is past, and we can have a relatively dispassionate dialog about ideas, rather than emotions in this diary.