That is the first line of Reframing the Gun Debate, a New York Times column by Charles M. Blow that I highly recommend.
He follows with this paragraph:
This time, nearly a month after the horrible mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., the public attention hasn’t ricocheted to the next story. On the contrary, sorrow has hardened into resolve.Blow reviews the apparent approach of the White House, including the Vice President's frank statement that the President may take executive action on some things.
He will also go through the arguments offered by General McChrystal about why military style weapons should not be in civilian hands.
But for me the heart of his op ed begins with this attempt to reframe the discussion:
First, let’s fix some of the terminology: stop calling groups like the National Rifle Association a “gun rights” group. These are anti-regulation, pro-proliferation groups. They prey on public fears — of the “bad guys with guns,” of a Second Amendment rollback, of an ever imminent apocalypse — while helping gun makers line their pockets.At this point, perhaps the American people are finally willing to hear the truth about the NRA and the gun industry.
Please keep reading.
Blow goes through several sets of statistics.
First, preying on fears that Obama will move to take away people's guns, the "killing industy" (I can offer my own reframing of the debate) that includes both the NRA and the weaponry manufacturers and sellers have seen the value of stocks of gun manufcaturers skyrocket: Sturm, Ruger & Company’s stock is up more than 500% and Smith & Wesson's stock more than 200%.
Then he quote from this report from the Violence Policy Center (and yes, i know gun advocates will attack reliance upon anything from this organization):
“Since 2005, corporations — gun related and other — have contributed between $19.8 million and $52.6 million to the NRA as detailed in its Ring of Freedom corporate giving program.”Let's be honest. The NRA is no longer in the business it used to be in, which included advocating for gun safety, which included supporting sensible gun regulation.
The report continued:
“The vast majority of funds — 74 percent — contributed to the NRA from ‘corporate partners’ are members of the firearms industry: companies involved in the manufacture or sale of firearms or shooting-related products. Contributions to the NRA from the firearms industry since 2005 total between $14.7 million and $38.9 million.”
The NRA is now a front for interests who are only concerned with their profits, and care little about the public safety issues that concern the vast majority of Americans, including many sensible gun owners.
Groups like the N.R.A. aren’t as much about rights as wrongs. The money being churned is soaked in blood and marked by madness.soaked in blood and marked by madness - not just in Sandy Hook Elementary School, although like the shooting in Dunblane affected the UK, this one event has had a profound effect upon American thinking.
BLow closes his column by examining a small Utah town that has "recommended" tha every household have a firearm and is paying for 20 teachers to be trained and armed with concealed weapons and concludes:
That is not where we want to be as a country.In a sense, the kind of thinking in that Utah town is sadly reminiscent of the international nuclear arms race that consumed so much of my lifetime. It is perhaps worthwhile to remember the acronym of the policy that underlay the U. S. determination to escalate from our end of that race: it was MAD - for Mutually Assured Destruction. While the level of destruction of escalation of ownership of high powered weapons and high-capacity magazines may not be the same as that of a nuclear bomb, the destruction of our civil society potentially approaches catastrophic levels.
Perhaps because I teach children some of whom already know personally far too much about gun violence . . .
Perhaps because having been in the military and fired the equivalent of the AR-15 Bushmasters used in Aurora and Sandy Hook Elementary and thus knowing the destructive power . . .
Perhaps because I do not not want to worry about the ability of mentally unstable or already demonstrably prone to violence individuals being able to easily obtain weapons such as those used in many shootings . . .
Perhaps because I do not want to live in a society that is so governed by fear that its only solution to the violence we have seen is to potentially foment even more violence. . .
Perhaps because more American children are killed by guns than in the entirety of the European Community - by a factor of more than three in populations that are roughly equivalent . .
To me this needs to be reframed several ways.
I have offered one - given how they have acted I think calling the manufacturers and purveyors of death the killing industry.
But I know that is too harsh for some. After all, there are those who hunt with appropriate weapons, often offered by the same manufacturers who offer the killing machines.
So let me use language offered by some friends who are as concerned as I am about the death and destruction.
This is NOT a "gun-control" issue.
This is a PUBLIC HEALTH issue.
I do not want to be in a country where the solution to gun violence is more guns.
That will harm more people.
It will cost more in lives lost and broken, in trauma care to save those shot.
I began with Blow's first line:
This time things are different.
I sure hope so, for if they are not, if we cannot even now act appropriately, then I fear what we will have learned is that we have lost any sense of being a civil society. All that will matter is raw power, whether that power be of large economic interests like corporations, raw political power to distort the electoral process by voter intimidation and gerrymandering, and the power of who can have the most firepower to turn on perceived opponents.
That is the way of madness.
It is surely as mad as the mindset of someone who dresses in black and shoots up a movie theater.
It is equally as mad as someone who would entered an elementary school and slaughter staff and small children.
It is the madness of a society too weak to act for what is right.
This time things are different
Because if it is not, then surely we are lost.