Who is accountable for the culture in America where guns have become more important than people? This article makes it clear:
There is no defense for what is going on in our country. But yet, the NRA, its' bought and paid for politicians, the entire gun lobby, those involved in ALEC, and the public (who have been lulled into complacency by the onslaught of laws they did not want but got anyway) are all responsible. But Congress and our legislators are the ones who pass the laws and make the rules. They should be making the rules, not the NRA. The guys with the guns should not be making the rules:"How many students have to be shot to death in their schools before this country has a serious discussion about guns? Are the 10 who have been gunned down just since Feb. 27 enough?The question of the constitutional right to own guns is irrelevant here—even if you believe that the Constitution gives every last American the right to own a firearm (which The Times editorial board does not, but many other reasonable people do).There is simply no defending the many states that allow people not just to keep guns in their homes, but to buy an unlimited number of weapons each month, and to carry guns, concealed or visible, into public areas, including schools and churches and libraries. The culture of permissiveness is now so out of control that the city attorney in Tampa has said he cannot stop people from carrying guns into the security perimeter that will be established around the site of the Republican convention in August."
The gun lobby won the early arguments that it was a good idea for people to carry guns around in public for self defense. Only they weren't always used in self defense. I have written countless posts about how many gun permit holders have either been careless in public with their guns or have very purposely killed others in a public place. The lie is that guns have made us safer. The lie is that guns don't kill people, people do. We all know that there are not mass knifings, or mass car killings or mass killings with blunt objects even though there are commenters on this blog who have tried in vain to make that claim. They must be desperate.
Others have also weighed in, as retired Federal Judge, H. Lee Sarokin writes:
We are all trying to understand this mentality. And then there is the ALEC/NRA influence on our gun laws and gun violence. It seems that the public and the media have become more than aware of how corporate America has knowingly or unknowingly contributed to our bad gun laws which have led to actual more shootings rather than public safety. Increased scrutiny of the Stand Your Ground laws after the shooting of Trayvon Martin has highlighted those who supported such laws and is holding them accountable for what they have supported. Some of the corporate sponsors of ALEC are now withdrawing their support for the conservative organization that has been responsible for Stand Your Ground laws in over 20 states, Voter ID and other conservative laws pushed in state legislatures. From the article:Why is it that every regulation is fought and every effort to expand the number of guns and where they can be carried and concealed is supported? The example I always hear is that if a car kills someone you don't ban cars. But if there is something that can be done with the car without banning it, such as regulating who drives it or how it is made and sold, why would anybody fight that? I also have heard the argument that regulations only affect law abiding citizens and not the criminals who will ignore them anyway. But many deaths are caused by persons who have obtained and own the weapon legally.I know the slogan -- "Guns don't kill people; people kill people", but without a gun present there would be no killing. I have no doubt that some crimes, injury or deaths have been prevented by the victim having a weapon or the criminal merely fearing that the victim may have one. I wonder, on the other hand, how many deaths occurred which could have been avoided if the victim or the shooter did not have a weapon (the Trayvon Martin case being a prime example). I truly do not understand the push to allow guns everywhere -- in schools, in churches, in bars, at political rallies, at Starbucks, etc., and I am sincere in saying I want to understand.
Sometimes a cartoon can explain things that words just can't. This one, for example:Coca-Cola and other ALEC member companies were targeted last year by the civil rights group ColorOfChange for their support of ALEC, which is also behind what ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson calls "voter suppression laws" in many states. The laws require voters to show identification.Since Martin's killing, Robinson said ColorOfChange has let the corporations know that ALEC was behind a push for states to adopt legislation modeled after Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.Robinson declined to name which other companies the group is pursuing, saying their strategy is to give corporations a chance to withdraw from ALEC before escalating the issue publicly.
Where does the buck stop? Let's just call it like it is. The responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of our elected officials who have decided that it's more expedient to go along with the gun lobby than try to fight them. They have decided that even mentioning the word "gun" in an election cycle is forbidden. Don't mess with the guys with the guns. They can make a lot of trouble. Never mind that they represent a minority of Americans. They also represent a culture unique to American where spree shootings and school shootings ( sometimes the same) occur on a regular basis with little or no examination of why or what can be done. Any attempts to change laws get drowned out by the gun rights extremists and also by the media who have also been fooled into thinking talking about guns just cannot happen. What kind of country are we when common sense is drowned out by big lobby groups and corporate influence? Er ah, what am I saying? That is our country today. Not only about guns but so many other issues. But I digress.
We can do something about this. We will do something about this. Elected leaders can and will be held responsible for their votes on gun laws. And not just by the NRA who gives letter grades to our leaders who run scared in some cases from the very organization who has fooled them. As President George W. Bush famously said:
Oops. His getting this one wrong is just a prime example of our nation's problems. If we just sit back and allow the continual and daily carnage on our nation's streets and in our homes, we will be fooled too many times. And don't sit back and think this can't happen to you. I never thought it would happen in my family either. Nor did the many others of us for whom a gunshot changed our own lives and took a loved one from us or left them with life long debilitating injuries. This is no time for fools. This is no time for foolishness. This is not time for running away from responsibility and accountability. Where does the buck stop? In your home? At a school where your child could be the next victim? At a restaurant where you are eating on an average day? On a rainy night when your teen-aged ( or even adult) son is walking around doing nothing wrong? Check out this story about a Florida white man walking too fast on a street and being confronted by a black man with a gun because he was walking too fast behind the man? The writer wonders if the Stand Your Ground law is good for business or good for anyone for that matter:
What kind of communities do we want? Do we want everyone to be so afraid of someone walking towards them or walking fast that they believe it is threatening and they can shoot them? This paranoia and fear is just not good for anyone. Who will be next? What will it take? Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign has made it clear that, not only is the NRA the problem, but is responsible for pushing laws that allow many people who shouldn't be able to carry loaded guns carry them anyway into every nook and cranny of our country. The mentality of carrying loaded guns everywhere has seeped, unwanted by most, into our culture. Thus was George Zimmerman carrying a gun the night of February 26th when he shot Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman should not have been carrying while on that neighborhood watch. Because he was, one teen is dead and Zimmerman will most likely face consequences for his actions.But the young man, who is my son, was just walking home from his classes at Valencia College. To be sure, he was power-walking. But that’s because he was tired, hot and just wanted to get home, thinking about what he would cook for dinner that night for his family.Fortunately, this situation did not end in tragedy, as did the Trayvon Martin case.As my son quickly walked up behind him, the older man whirled around and pointed his gun in Jason’s face, screaming obscenities at him. But in the midst of his rant, instead of shooting, he bellowed, “Why are you following me?”And then, thankfully, he gave my son a chance to answer: “I’m just walking home from school. See? The school is right there. I’m just going home to see my kids.”At that point, the two just stood there, looking at each other. Then the older man lowered his gun. My son edged his way around the man. And then ran home.In Florida, I believe it was perfectly legal for that man to pull a gun because he felt threatened. In fact, if I understand Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law correctly, he also legally could have killed my son. Because he genuinely felt threatened.
This is a Holy week for many. Easter and Passover celebrations will happen all over the world. It is a time for reflection and hope. No matter your faith or whether you participate in a faith community at all, I think we can all agree that non-violence is a better way of life. Faith communities espouse non-violence. We can all agree that there is too much violence all over the world, some of it actually coming from religious beliefs, unfortunately. Human nature seems bent on the destruction of others. That doesn't mean we should sit back and do nothing about it. Most of us agree that in America, we have a problem. There are too many victims of gun violence. This is unacceptable and should be a clarion call to get busy and do something to prevent the daily human tragedy all around us. Where is common sense?
Apparently I am not the only one thinking along the same line about holding the NRA responsible for the lax gun laws in our country. This blog by Josh Sugarman of the Violence Policy Center talks about the gun industry, their advertising to make people want ( and need) to buy their guns and the laws that have allowed for more people to buy more guns and carry them in more places:
Sugarman starts his blog with these words:Despite the national controversy over the death of Trayvon Martin, the U.S. Senate may soon take up legislation that would actually expand the rights of concealed carry permit holders to carry their loaded handguns outside their home states and across the nation. The NRA-backed S. 2188 would force all states that issue concealed carry permits to recognize all out-of-state permits, even if the person could not qualify for a permit in that state. Gun violence prevention advocates have labeled this bill the George Zimmerman Armed Vigilante Act.An even more extreme version of this bill is being pushed by Gun Owners of America (GOA), which views itself as the hard-line conscience of the pro-gun movement. Sponsored by John Thune (R-SD) and David Vitter (R-LA), S. 2213 grants national carry "rights" to gun carriers from states that don't even require their residents to obtain permits to carry concealed, loaded handguns in public.And while without doubt pro-gun advocates will inevitably voice their support for these bills in terms of self-defense and individual rights, in the end the greatest beneficiary of national concealed carry will be the gun industry.
The gun used to kill Trayvon Martin didn't find its way into George Zimmerman's hands by happenstance. Like the killing itself, it is the predictable result of an aggressive decades-long campaign by the National Rifle Association to promote lax concealed carry laws and attendant "Shoot First" laws. The primary and intended beneficiary of these laws has been the firearms industry.
Faced with long-term declines in household gun ownership since the mid-1970s, the firearms industry has worked to exploit these NRA-backed laws to re-sell old customers and entice new ones. As Tanya Metaksa, then the chief lobbyist for the NRA told the Wall Street Journal in 1996--"The gun industry should send me a basket of fruit--our efforts have created a new market."