On December 13th, a mentally ill man entered an elementary school and attacked 22 students and at least one adult.
On December 14th, a mentally disturbed young man entered another elementary school and began to randomly attack students and adults.
The first one happened in Chengping China. All of the victims of the assault are expected to live.
The second occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut. In less than ten minutes, twenty children and six women were killed – seven if you count the perpetrator’s mother, who’d been murdered earlier.
The difference? The man in Chengping was armed with a knife; Adam Lanza had guns – a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle, very popular with mass murderers, and two handguns, a Sig Sauer and a Glock.
It turns out guns do kill people – or more specifically, gun-wielding people kill people, and they do it efficiently and effectively. So much for industry slogans.
But surely we’ve known this for some time. Surely—with at least 31 gun-related mass murders since Columbine; with a rate of gun-related homicides nearly 20 times that of other developed nations; with an average of 30,000 gun-related deaths a year and 300,000 gun-related assaults—we’ve figured out that easy access to guns makes killing easy.
Isn’t that the point of a gun, to make killing easy?
So if we’ve known this for some time, why haven’t we done anything about it?
Many people will point to the second amendment. Don’t be fooled. There’s nothing in the second amendment that precludes practical steps like strictly licensing gun ownership and requiring gun purchasers to be mentally stable and free of a criminal record. The Second Amendment language ratified by the States even encourages regulation: “a well-regulated militia …”
Can psychotics, the mentally disturbed, and the criminally inclined acting alone and in isolation possibly be construed as contributing to a well-regulated militia? Of course not.
The real deal—as with so much else in our government-for-sale society—is that unconstrained gun sales mean profits a-go-go. Just like war. There’s big money in being a merchant of death… and where there’s big money, there’s big lobbying, and where there’s big lobbying, politician’s send the public interest packing.
How big is the gun industry?
Big. As of 2011, there were 5,400 licensed gun manufacturers in the US and 950 licensed importers. And they amassed profits – some $13.6 billion in 2011. This makes them a favorite of Wall Street and hedge funds.
The industry’s hitmen, the NRA , did this the old-fashioned way – they used money, fear and intimidation to buy, cow and neuter politicians. In the 2011-2012 election cycle they spent a total of about $21 million in contributions, lobbying, and outside spending. This combination of money and a membership of more than 4 million is partly responsible for the steady decline in public and political support for gun control since the early 1990’s.
The industry also exploited paranoia about Obama, ginning up crazy, conspiracy nut myths to boost sales. Some suggested Aurora was staged by Obama to provide an excuse to regulate assault weapons.
When Obama continued to ignore gun control, even after a raft of gun tragedies, NRA spokesman, Wayne La Pierre went so far as to say it was all part of a conspiracy to regulate guns.
You get it, right? No action means he’s going to take your guns away; action, of course, also means he’s going to take your guns away.
Making Obama the bogeymen has paid off big time. Since the President took office, guns and ammo have virtually flown off the shelves. Much of the demand comes from the less educated, the gullible and the paranoid. Felling safer? Can you say “well-regulated militia?
Cowardice and complicity by the media and Democrats also has contributed to the steady erosion in support for gun control. When only one side shows up for the debate, it usually wins.
But the NRA is just the most obvious example of a much deeper problem.
On January 17, 1961, just three days before he retired, Dwight Eisenhower warned about the military industrial complex, saying:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Eisenhower was astoundingly prescient, but he got one part wrong. Corporate tyranny wasn’t just about the military industrial complex – it stems from the entire industrial complex.
On issue after issue – from pharmaceuticals to banking to media, to globalization to unions to telecommunications, to energy to the environment – the public interest gets trumped by private interests with deep pockets.
We should move forward with gun control. But the fixes will never stick if we don’t also tackle the issue of corporate tyranny, a government for sale, and a people deluded by a press that is essentially a wholly owned subsidiary of the plutocracy.