The Florida teens show the way on gun control

The children survivors of the Sandy Hook school massacre were too young to have a voice and their parents were drowned out. The survivors of the Las Vegas massacre found no voice against the NRA or their NRA-beholden politicians; instead they had to make do with all those “thoughts and prayers” and then wait for the next time. The survivors of the Orlando, Florida nightclub massacre didn’t stand a chance. Survivors, parents, friends and waves of distraught citizens have been silenced time and again against this extraordinary misinterpretation of the right to bear arms and the power (money) of the NRA. But these teenagers, these marvelous teenagers, may just be able to keep this momentum going. They are not cowed by the fear-mongering tactics of the NRA and their politician puppets. Find out how to support them; this movement needs everyone.

First of all, this notion of the Second Amendment meaning every living human being in the U.S. should have the right to purchase and use any imaginable firearm with no controls is a complete fabrication of the recent NRA. As we all know, the Founding Fathers were referring to muskets, and they were referring to having a musket available in case the Red Coats or other subversives tried to take over the new country in the absence of a called-up army in the late 1700s. The Second Amendment was never intended to allow every citizen to own as many semi-automatics as he or she likes. How did the NRA – and the gun manufacturers – manage to distort this intention so dramatically, and how did the population come to decide that this makes sense? Even knowing that there is no other country on earth that has this number of guns per person? Even knowing that no other country on earth with a stable government has as a fraction of the number of gun deaths as the U.S.? How does the NRA manage this?

It’s not just the mass shootings in schools. That’s a nightmare beyond imagining, all those kids and teachers dead and lives torn apart. But 107 innocent citizens lost their lives in the two most recent non-school mass shootings alone, in Las Vegas and Orlando. And it’s not just the mass shootings in schools and mass shootings elsewhere. It’s all the other shootings, too. The mass shootings actually comprise a very small percentage of gun-related deaths in the U.S. The loss of life by gun death is simply horrifying. Sorry, folks, but this just doesn’t happen as a matter of course anywhere else in the world except in a few failed states. And even then not affecting the same percentage of the population.

Why don’t people understand that when the expectation is that everyone is armed, then everyone is scared. If I don’t know you and you come to my door and I think you may be armed – and I’m armed – then I’m likely to shoot you. Maybe you just had a flat tire and needed help, but how was I supposed to know. I was scared and was protecting my property. If I’m a cop and I stop you for something and you reach across your seat, I’m going to have to think that you are reaching for a gun, so I shoot you. This is the Wild West writ large and then some. Fear abounds. Trust is hard to find. These patterns are the antithesis of what the noble American experiment was all about.

For the record, I lived in the U.S. until I was 17, when I left to attend McGill University in Montreal and, as it happened, didn’t return. But when I was growing up, I learned about a safe, kind, welcoming America. Going to school, nobody thought about whether there might be a shooting, and the only guns people had were hunting rifles, stowed safely away until hunting season. In the school choir we sang a song that included the words “I like the United States of America, I like the way we all live without fear…” And we sang the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, huddled masses yearning to be free.”   This is the America I left. Wow, what a difference. It so happens that I left in the fall of 1963, two months before Kennedy was shot. The world mourned with all Americans. How could such a thing happen? (Interestingly, there was a Russian connection!) I was living in London five years later when Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot, and then two months later Bobby Kennedy. These events were staggering. But despite those heartbreaking shootings, and lots of violence that followed in the U.S. because of the Vietnam War and so on, I couldn’t remember ever hearing in my childhood of this notion of the sanctity of the Second Amendment and every citizen’s right to own whatever guns he or she wanted – and to carry them around at will in many states. I wondered if I had just had my head in the clouds for years. Not quite, I discovered.

In looking into the history of the NRA, it seems that it was originally started way back in the second part of the 1800s, in the aftermath of the Civil War, to improve the marksmanship of soldiers and hunters. They had noticed an enormous wasting of ammunition among Union soldiers! And when the first gun control legislation was passed by Congress in the 1934, it was supported by the NRA. In fact, when this first gun control legislation was passed, the NRA president, Karl Frederick is quoted as saying “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. … I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.” It is only since 1975 or later that the NRA became a lobbying organization. It is now a formidable money machine, spending more money in Washington in lobbying than any other lobbying group except for the pharmaceutical industry (an intriguing fact itself) and the insurance industry. It fights every attempt at rational gun control to prevent unnecessary deaths. It supports the sale of as many guns as possible, in partnership with its friends, the gun manufacturers. And, as the whole world knows, it pours countless millions of dollars into the campaign troughs of compliant politicians.

Cartoon by Bruce MacKinnon, Chronicle Herald

But now the country finds itself with some brave, articulate, rational, well-informed teenagers ready to lead a charge which may finally have some teeth. They have said what others have thought for years: the emperor has no clothes. The words of the politicians are hollow. There are no thoughts and prayers that will bring back the massacred loved ones or stop the next mass shooting. Guns kill people, period, and stop pretending otherwise. Yes, now is the time to take about gun control. And, yes, it does seem that the NRA-beholden politicians love their guns more than they love the children – or the thousands of others who have been killed by guns in the U.S. Please, people who care, don’t let this movement die.  Be inspired by these young people.

For a little more perspective, did you know that:

    • In looking at the stats for all countries, in all cases, everywhere, the number of gun-related deaths per person correlates directly to the number of guns per person. The same results apply when comparing states. States with more guns per person have proportionately more gun-related deaths per person.
    • Mass shootings account for only a small percentage of gun deaths in the U.S. More than half of all U.S. gun deaths are suicide, many of which might have been prevented if having a gun hadn’t made it so easy.
    • More people have died by gun death in the U.S. since data first started being collected in 1968 than in all the wars and conflicts in the U.S. history. There were 1,516,863 gun-related deaths between 1968 and 2015 versus 1,396,733 deaths in battle since 1776. This includes the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, and several other conflicts. Wow.
    • The U.S. has a similar record of crime to other western countries. Gun-related deaths do not correlate to more crime.
    • The U.S. does not have more mental health issues than other countries.
    • Americans do not play more violent video games than people in other countries.
    • A police officer trained in gun use has only an 18% success rate in hitting a moving target in a dangerous situation. Someone else trained to use a gun (like a teacher) could not be expected to do better, and could easily put him/herself or others at risk.
    • The NRA refers to the semi-automatic AR-15 “America’s rifle”. I’m not sure the Founding Fathers would agree with this.

 

The door has opened, if only a crack, for change. These fearless, passionate, honorable young people need your help. They need your help and your protection. Follow their lead. Identify other leaders to join them. Learn from the successful tactics of the NRA and be part of the solution. Think of the lives you can save. The rest of the world is with you.

Who knows, maybe once these young people get reasonable gun control taken care of they will want to move on to reasonable health care for all!

 

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10 Responses to The Florida teens show the way on gun control

  1. Common sense gun control solutions like universal background checks and registering firearms shouldn’t even be a debate. It doesn’t do anything to legal gun owners but goes a long way in keeping guns out of the wrong people’s hands

  2. Jean says:

    There was a time over 25 yrs. ago where I did apply for jobs in the U.S. I actually was interviewed for one in California.
    Now it’s 2 of several reasons am glad I’ve been in Canada the whole time: our public health insurance system and gun control. And I lived and worked in Toronto for 14 yrs. on a street where we did have a shooting.

    Then there was a shooting in Vancouver half a block away .. again it’s more rare in downtown.

    Sadly in rural Alberta there are rural folks that are rallying for gun use and shooting..trespassers.!

  3. Roy McCarthy says:

    Very well said Jane. Actually I’m most appalled at how politicians are so easily bought, therefore impairing the decency they were surely born with. Their parents must be proud.

    Secondly, why are the NRA so in thrall to their weapons? Let the sporting guys shoot away to their hearts’ content. No one else needs a deadly weapon. Here in (old) Jersey we have a sizeable gun-owning community who respect the privilege and who give no cause for anyone to be concerned.

    But, like you, I so wish the kids gain traction in standing up and speaking up. It’s high time we had proper student protests as was common years ago. I say that our generation have collectively f*cked things up. I really hope our kids can do better. Let’s get behind them.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thx, Roy. We’re sure on the same page wrt how our generation seems to have collectively f**ked things up. My jaw is sore from dropping so often. The gun reverence in the US and their refusal to match gun deaths with the availability of guns defies the imagination, 2nd amendment or no 2nd amendment. And if the daily drama south of the border didn’t keep sucking up all the oxygen, we could be saying similar things about the shoot-myself-in-the-head non-strategy of Brexit. You’re right, young people used to take to the streets with some success before complacency set in during “good times”. It’s reassuring to see corporations responding to the young people’s concerns. I love it when doing the right thing is good for business, too!

  4. sherri says:

    one thing those supporters of the NRA don’t speak about (or may not even know because they are so often clueless), is that the United States Supreme Court ruled that the second amendment does not protect owning the AR-15. so, it would be perfectly legal to outlaw assault weapons and not interfere with the second amendment.

    there are two major things in play here, and you’ve already stated the first one. the NRA is buying our politicians and they are reading from the script the NRA writes for them. the second thing is a portion of our society have lost touch with reality. in lieu of having an intake of real news which they have recently renamed ‘fake news’ and/or ‘alternative facts’, they are constantly hearing repetitious rhetoric from the true ‘fake news’, FOX; yet another onslaught on what used to be traditional American values. they are attempting to deprive us of our first amendment, through fear, for their own profit and it is working very well.

    that section of our society, doesn’t seem to know economic, educational or cultural boundaries and seem to be brainwashed by this rhetoric and believe such far fetched ideas like the Sandy Hook shootings were faked by actors. the same people, including members of our current President’s family are floating the idea that the surviving teens of the Florida shooting are actors because they are intelligent, informed and disagree with our current President.

    the climate of our country right now is very intense. it’s like nothing i’ve felt before and it’s very scary. actually, to the point that i’m second guessing myself about pushing the button marked ‘post comment’.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Sherri. These are indeed disturbing times. And the gun issue is just one of several angst-filled issues. Alienating allies by insults and bullying and making nice only with Saudi princes, Israel, and Duterte doesn’t give the rest of the world much comfort either. Troubling, troubling times. So sad. So much potential for good.

  5. A very thoughtful post, Jane. I hope the students can continue their fight until it becomes everybody’s fight.

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