First New York Daily News columnist Linda Stasi demanded that the U.S. State Department list the National Rifle Association as a terrorist organization. Now Salon continues the bloody-minded assault by targeting Wayne LaPierre, calling the NRA veep a murderer. “Although 26-year-old Christopher Harper-Mercer pulled the trigger on the gun that killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon on Thursday, Wayne LaPierre, the fanatic executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, also has blood on his hands . . .
LaPierre, who has worked for the NRA since 1978 and served as its top official since 1991, is the organization’s hit man when it comes to intimidating elected officials to oppose any kind of sensible gun control laws, including a federal law requiring background checks on would-be gun buyers and a national registry of guns. LaPierre likes to fulminate about gun owners’ rights. But he’s been silent on the Oregon killings, just as he’s been silent after the murders of other innocent victims of America’s epidemic of gun violence.
Not true, of course. Salon writer Peter Dreier knows full well that that the NRA refrains from public commentary about a mass shooting until the media hubub dies down. But the “NRA as silent accomplice to murder” suits Dreier’s anti-gun agenda. To make that case, Dreier has to draw a direct connection between America’s “lax gun laws” and mass murder. Or “gun violence,” generally.
Most gun-related deaths are committed by people who purchase their weapons legally. Others purchase or steal them illegally, but their ability to get access to guns is due to our lax laws on gun ownership. The NRA’s job is to make it easier for people to buy and use guns. And so far it has been very successful. Since the 1994 assault-weapon ban expired in 2004, Congress hasn’t enacted any major gun regulations.
Surprise! Another anti-gunner uses weasel words to divert attention from the truth about guns. “Most gun-related deaths are committed by people who purchase their weapons legally” is only true if you include suicides, which account for the majority of firearms-related fatalities. Is it true that all firearms-related deaths are related to the shooters’ “ability to get access to guns . . . due to our lax laws on gun ownership”? If you want to see if that way, sure. I see their access as a logical result of America’s firearms freedom, our inability to provide mental health treatment to [some] suicidal Americans, and our lax (a.k.a., revolving door) criminal justice system.
Thanks to the NRA, it is no accident that the United States ranks first in the world — by a wide margin — in gun-related civilian deaths and injuries. Compared with every other democracy, we have the most guns per capita and the weakest gun laws. Although the United States accounts for only about 4.5% of the world’s population, Americans own about 45 percent of all civilian-owned firearms in the world. Americans own about 300 million firearms.
But the danger isn’t simply the number of guns; it is the type of guns we allow people to legally purchase. Other countries permit hunting rifles. But the NRA believes that Americans have a right to own assault weapons.
Of course, even in countries with strong gun-control laws, some people will get their hands on a weapon and destroy others’ lives. In 2011, for example, Anders Breivik killed 69 children at a summer camp in Norway, which has strict gun laws. (But let’s recall that Breivik bought $550 worth of 30-round ammunition clips from an American gun supplier for the rifle he used in that massacre. Thanks to American laws, it was a legal online purchase.)
Pay no attention to the facts behind that curtain! Or the facts presented. (Is Mexico a democracy? What’s an assault weapon, exactly?) The conclusion justifies the argument. Needless to say, Dreier’s conclusion lays the blame for mass murder on the NRA.
Every American grieves for the families and friends of the people killed in Oregon last week. But until we tame the power of the NRA, we can expect more killings like this, a part of the deadly daily diet of murders throughout America committed by angry gun-toting people whose “freedom” to own weapons of mass destruction that the NRA defends.
In other words, if we tame the power of the NRA, these killings will stop. Yup. Another professor who can’t understand why Americans would reject such a patently idiotic assertion. And embrace the simple sentiment attributed to Mr. LaPierre: “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Meanwhile, if Salon’s looking for people who encourage violence, they should look at their headline again.