Smart v. Stupid
Calls for gun control miss the target
It’s time for a heart-to-heart with my liberal friends. You are putting more guns in the hands of dangerous people. Sure, we should all try to create the world we want to live in. But we still have to live in the world we do live in.
There will be no new gun control laws
Our federal government will not pass any gun laws during the next few years. We saw this same pattern after Columbine and after Virginia Tech—much handwringing, calls for new laws, calls for restraint of calls for new laws until after the hurt has passed, National Rifle Association fulminations about how we just need to enforce the laws we already have, strategically placed campaign contributions and no legislative action.
The only outcome was that gun sales went up.
It will be the same this time. Gun manufacturers, through the NRA and other trade groups, have a complete lock on our federal government. Face it: the NRA currently has veto power when it comes to gun laws.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t on the right side of the issue
When “Fast and Furious” (see “Fast and Frivolous”) blew up in the news it ultimately led to contempt citation for Attorney General Eric Holder. You might remember that the NRA announced they would “score the vote,” that is rate legislators for compliance with an NRA position. It was a queer choice for a sportsman’s rights organization – until you realize that some 750,000 guns are sold annually in the United States and then smuggled into Mexico for use by criminal organizations.
When Holder was targeted by the NRA even some House members who didn’t support the contempt citation voted for it. To protect their jobs, they had to kowtow to the NRA.
Sales to criminals are an important part of gun industry profits. Like the international arms dealer who arms both sides in a civil war – our gun industry sells to both police and criminals.
There were about 14.5 million background checks in 2010; 750,000 Mexico-smuggled guns is 5.2 percent of the exact number – one out of every 20 gun sales. So the NRA is fighting to keep the roughly 5 percent of its sponsor’s gross sales plus whatever other percentage is earned from domestic criminals. (In fairness, background checks don’t reveal multiple gun purchases. So it might be, say, 4.75 percent of sales give or take.)
The other important market is nutbags
There are three levels of crazy in the gun community. The craziest are the mass murderers like Holmes in Aurora, Cho at Virginia Tech, Arizona’s Reddy and Loughner, and Klebold and Harris at Columbine High School. The list is shockingly extensive.
But another large group is paranoid men who are afraid to leave home without a gun tucked under their shirts. When they venture out, they see danger on every street corner, in every parking lot and inside every place of business. This group often has bug-out bags, hidden Krugerrands, and a plan for when society inevitably collapses. They are weapons and ammunition hoarders. They plan to use them to kill you when you try to steal their food. And they are sure you would – because they plan to steal yours.
The last and largest group is average gun enthusiasts who are crazy enough to imagine that all the paranoids aren’t quite so nutty and dangerous as they appear. They are enablers.
And therein lays the dilemma...
When you speak out for gun control, you become the poster child for the NRA’s outreach to the paranoid group. “See,” the NRA says. “We told you they’d come for your guns and now they’re coming. So arm yourself while you still can!” The NRA points at you and the Apocalypse Now crowd makes a Pavlovian run to the gun store for more guns and ammo. NRA marketing is designed to stoke this paranoia and they are experts. Even NRA gun safety programs are propaganda tools.
You provide the sense of urgency for crazy fools buy another weapon and 10,000 rounds. But even worse, you’ve unintentionally helped to fund the guns-for-criminals lobby.
There is a solution
Stop talking about gun control. Start talking about bought government. To win, fight the gun issue at its rotten core, not its rank exterior. Like the gun industry, there are “war profiteers” in lots of sectors – energy, agriculture, and industrial manufacturing just to name a few.
So work on getting money out of politics. Fight for a constitutional amendment to define a person as a person. Fight for legislation that requires detailed disclosure by all corporate entities – both profit and nonprofit – of political contributions. And boycott companies that influence legislation against the public interest.
All of our killing fields lead back to the issue of influence buying. Without it, the solutions to big problems are easy to sort out. Dead easy.
Jimmy Zuma splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Tucson. He writes the online opinion journal, Smart v. Stupid. He spent 5 years in Tucson in the early ‘80s, when life was a little slower, swamp coolers were a little more plentiful, Tucson’s legendary music scene was in full bloom, and the prevailing work ethic was “don’t - unless you have to.”