This essay was originally posted in 2017, but I’m reposting it in response to the latest mass shooting. Sadly, these points haven’t changed in the last year and this is still relevant today.
I grew up in a gun-loving part of the country. As a teen I received my first gun from my mom as a Christmas present, which is quite typical where I come from. By the time I was 18 I owned 4 guns. Also typical. Coming from the heartland, I fully understand why people like guns. Now that I’ve spent over 30 years in one of the largest and most violent cities in the country (Los Angeles) I also understand why our country needs far more restrictions on who can get a gun. These POV’s seem contradictory at first glance, but both are rational. You can be pro 2nd Amendment, and still think that guns should be carefully regulated like other deadly weapons. Most Americans still don’t understand why the gun situation is so different here than it is in every other country.
The reason it is so much easier to get a gun in the U.S. than in any other developed country, is because of the political pressure the NRA puts on Congress. If any congressman or congresswoman dares to vote on any gun restriction whatsoever, the NRA rallies votes and often gets them kicked out of office. And the NRA has enough red state voter members to have ended many a politician’s career. So the NRA is feared by Congress. The NRA has successfully convinced red state voters, and thus their intimidated elected members of Congress, to fight ANY gun regulations, no matter how sensible they may be. The NRA is not only standing in the way of progress in making our streets safer, but they are aggressively working to loosen gun regulations even further, regardless of the violent impact to our citizens. In February 2017 the NRA pushed to reverse the regulation that helped prevent mentally ill people from buying guns. The NRA was pushing a congressional vote scheduled to make silencers legal (they’ve been illegal since the gangster days of the 1930’s), but the vote was quietly postponed after the Vegas massacre happened in the same week.
The most maddening thing about the NRA’s arguments is that they are all so very paper-thin. The entire NRA argument is built upon the false premise that the 2nd Amendment is about to be overturned and all guns are about to be outlawed. That is silly to anyone who understands how our system works. It is a merely a fake manufactured lie from the NRA to scare naïve rural voters. Not one single NRA talking point holds up to logic. Not one! I have friends who have repeated these talking points verbatim from the NRA, but they can’t support their arguments with reason, because they are simply not reasonable. Here are some of the myths the NRA has created over the past few decades, all of which are easily rebuked with common sense.
NRA Myth #1- If we make any gun regulations whatsoever, it means the government is going to come to your home and take your guns away. That is crazy. We can’t even take over Puerto Rico. And it’s our island! Our government is not capable of going door to door and confiscating guns, even if they wanted to. The NRA said Obama was going to take your guns even though he said repeatedly that he defended the 2nd Amendment while wanting common sense regulations to make us safer. Obama’s ATF agents never came knocking at your door. Did they? No, they didn’t. And they had 8 full years to do it and some of that time was with a Democratic congress. That was never going to happen and never will. This is simply the NRA ginning up fear in others. It’s nonsense.
NRA Myth #2- The 2nd Amendment trumps all other rights and means no limits can be put on gun ownership. Uh, no! The 1st Amendment gives us the right to free speech, but the Supreme Court has put limits on that over the years; you can’t make threats or yell FIRE in a crowded theatre, for instance. Your right to carry a gun into a daycare center should not trump my right to have my kid in a safe place without guns. In most states, gun owners’ rights currently DO trump the rights of those who don’t like guns, but that is only because of the perverse work of the NRA and [mostly] Republicans in congress. It shouldn’t be that way in an open democratic country, and isn’t the case in any other developed nations because most other nations regulate guns as deadly weapons.
NRA Myth #3- The 2nd Amendment guarantees that anyone can get a gun without a waiting period, without a background check, anytime they want. No. The 2nd Amendment says nothing about convenience in buying a gun. Gun laws, background checks, waiting periods, are not in any way in conflict with the 2nd Amendment. Buying a gun should be harder than getting a driver’s license or voting. Guns are deadly weapons and there should be stringent rules about who owns them. It’s just common sense.
NRA Myth #4- I am part of a “well-regulated militia”. No matter how many guns you own or whether you and your friends like to dress up in camouflage and play war games in the woods behind your house on weekends, only the states and military have genuine regulated militias. Private groups are not well regulated militias, no matter how much they hate the government.
NRA Myth #5- Now is not the time to discuss gun laws. Nonsense. It is always the time to make our streets and schools safer. And there’s no more logical time than in the wake of mass shootings, which are now a regular occurrence. This is a nothing more than a diversionary NRA smoke screen, which gives cover to cowardly politicians. Mitch McConnell probably has this line tattooed on his forearm. Don’t be quieted by the feigned outrage of the right.
NRA Myth #6- The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Law Enforcement absolutely hates the idea of citizens carrying guns. It hurts law enforcement. Why would we not listen to the experts? (This is not science afterall.) Law enforcement really does have expertise in this area. And just imagine how things would have been worse in Vegas had civilians started shooting back. More civilians would have been shot and the shooter wouldn’t have been stopped. Let the cops do the jobs they’re trained for.
NRA Myth #7- Enforce the laws on the books. Congress and state legislatures exist to make new laws. That’s what they’re for. This argument isn’t made for drunk driving, or any other area of public safety. New laws continue to be made about every issue in every state house. The notion that we should stop making laws until every other law about that issue is completely enforced is ludicrous. But still the NRA says that we have made enough gun laws and shouldn’t make any more new ones until all of the existing laws are 100% enforced. Ridiculous. That’s just not how our system works… about everything.
NRA Myth #8- Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. As my friend Spike Dolomite Ward recently pointed out… with that logic, nuclear bombs don’t kill people either. Nor does Anthrax, it’s just powder, it’s people that use anthrax to kill people, but it’s got nothing to do with Anthrax. Silly argument. Guns are weapons, which are made for the purpose of killing. Even if you don’t see your gun as a deadly weapon because you just like to collect them, it is still made for the purpose of killing. Nobody ever got their head blown off by a stamp collection.
NRA Myth #9- There are too many guns in the U.S. to ever be able to reduce those numbers, and criminals aren’t going to give up their guns, so why even try? There are about 300 million guns in the U.S., and about 1/3 of American households own a gun. But a small percentage own most of all guns in America. Australia greatly reduced their gun numbers. It can be done. But don’t be fooled by this one, the fact that criminals aren’t giving up their guns is another red herring because nobody is asking every American to give up all their guns. You will always be able to have a gun to defend yourself against the criminal in your home. But that does not negate the need for reasonable gun control laws, background checks for everybody, banning assault rifles and high capacity magazines, etc.
NRA Myth #10-There’s no correlation between mass shootings in America and our gun laws. This is one of the silliest myths. We are the ONLY developed nation in the world with this level of gun violence. Of course it is because anyone can easily buy as many guns as they desire, without even a background check. That’s just a no-brainer. Our lax gun laws have everything to do with the catastrophic level of gun violence in the U.S. To say these things have nothing to do with each other is simply illogical.
NRA Myth #11- The Government can’t tell me what to do! Yes they can. And they already do. That’s what governments do. They set speed limits, they decide how many people you can marry, and what constitutes theft and murder. Every government makes laws that tell their people what they are allowed and not allowed to do. That’s government. And our system says that if you don’t follow the laws, you will be prosecuted by our legal system. Pretty straight forward.
NRA Myth #12- Liberals don’t want me to protect my family. NOBODY is going to overturn the 2nd Amendment in this country. Ever. Yes, a few liberals would love it if we could wave a magic wand and be a gun-free country. But it’s a silly red herring in the real gun debate. So let this stupid talking point go! It’s part of our Constitution and you will always have the right to have a gun for your family’s safety. But that doesn’t mean you must be able to go buy an assault rifle and 1,000 rounds of ammo without a background check from a stranger in a parking lot at a gun show.