In the coming weeks, we’ll find out just how far our elected lawmakers are willing to go to protect our children from future gun massacres. But we already know how far our lawmakers are willing to go to protect us from Middle Eastern terrorists – a group that has killed nothing close to the number of Americans who die every day because of the NRA.
If al-Qaeda were to strike the United States in the last remaining weeks of 2012 and kill as many Americans as three 9/11s, the carnage still wouldn’t compare to what guns do to Americans every single year. So far in 2012, more than 9,000 Americans have died by way of the gun; almost a hundred thousand were shot. Just this last Saturday alone, 190 people were shot in America. And in Newtown, Connecticut, twenty first graders are dead – gunned down by an assault rifle borrowed from a gun-nut mom.
It's interesting - and instructive - to compare our national response to Muslim religious extremist killers, versus our response to largely white Christian extremist killers.
At the end of 2001, a British Islamic fundamentalist named Richard Reid tried to take down an American Airlines flight headed to Miami by igniting a bomb hidden his shoe. He failed, and no one died. But extreme measures were immediately put into place in airports around the nation, forcing us to take off our shoes before we can board an airplane. And more than a decade later, we still have to take off our shoes.
In 2006, British police claimed they foiled a terror plot aimed at ten transatlantic flights headed to the United States in which liquid explosives were to be used. The plot never happened, no one died. But again, extreme security measures were taken to ban all liquids and gels from being carried beyond the security checkpoint at the airport. That ban which is still in place.
In 2009, an alleged Nigerian Islamist tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight headed to Detroit by lighting his underwear on fire. He failed, no one died. But in another hysterical and expensive response, we spent billions on Chertoff X-ray porno scanners and, for those of us who didn't want the radiation, our groins and breasts are thoroughly examined by hand.
These three terror plots, though never carried out and not responsible for the death of a single American, triggered radical and very profitable security changes that have trashed our civil liberties. And, to add insult to injury, epidemiologists tell us that more people will die from cancer from the Chertoff X-ray porno machines causing cancer than have died in any year of the past decade from terrorists.
When the danger is terrorism, our policymakers respond quickly, with little concern about either cost or civil liberties. But with our national epidemic of gun violence, it’s an entirely different story.
After 13 people were murdered in Columbine in 1999, not a single thing was done to address gun safety. Nothing was done after the DC sniper killed 10 people in 2002. Nothing after a Brookfield, Wisconsin man killed seven people during a church service in 2005. Nothing after a truck driver killed five school girls in Pennsylvania in 2006. Nothing in 2007 after 32 people were gunned down at Virginia Tech University.
Years passed, more mass shooting followed, and, still, no actions were taken. Then in 2011, a deranged man with very expensive assault weapons killed six people in Tucson and shot Congresswoman Gabby Giffords through the brain. Despite the attack being so close to home for Members of Congress, still no action was taken on gun safety.
Just like no action was taken after the Aurora, Colorado theatre shooting this year that killed 12 people. And nothing was done after the Sikh temple massacre in Oak Creek, Wisconsin this year that killed six people.
Had any one of these mass shootings been done by al-Qaeda and called terrorism, our national response would have been swift and decisive. Instead, we got bupkis.
Which is, in part, because al-Qaeda didn't make the smart investment that Colt and Remington did and get the NRA to lobby for them. Just this year alone, the NRA has spent nearly $19 million, much of it from weapons manufacturers, here in DC and across America to make sure that the gun industry can continue to make huge profits. Those investments keep in place the sale of assault weapons like the Bushmaster, which was used last Friday to murder 20 children. Those investments keep in place the sale of high capacity clips, like the ones believed used last Friday to murder 20 children. Those investments keep in place background check loopholes, which put guns into the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and put in place numerous limitations on our government's ability to track guns or their users.
Ironically, the NRA’s investments even keep in place the right of terrorists to buy guns. In 2011, the NRA beat back a gun control measure that would have prevented those on the FBI’s terror watch list from purchasing a gun. So in the future, should al-Qaeda carry out the next mass shooting in America, they may well have been able to do so because of the efforts of the NRA. Certainly the narco-terrorists on our southern border are grateful to the NRA.
Money is another factor. There’s enormous profit to be made in counter-terrorism surveillance and security measures. Contracts to defense corporations and security firms post-9/11 have exploded, as both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama expand our war economy and construct a fierce security state at home. Protecting the lives of Americans is given as the main reason for the X-rays and groin checks, but Michael Chertoff has made millions selling those airport porno scanners.
Similarly, there’s enormous money to be made in the manufacture and sale of firearms. Yet, there’s very little money to be made in the restriction of firearms. Which may help explain why the weapons industry trade group the NRA works so hard to knock down gun control laws.
The NRA’s Second Amendment “freedom” argument is just a cover for the real reason why they don't want Americans to enjoy freedom from gun nuts. There are millions in profits to be made keeping open the flow of deadly weapons, no matter how many kids’ lives are put at risk.
Let's tell the truth. The NRA’s hands are far bloodier than al-Qaeda’s.
We as a nation wouldn’t tolerate a Muslim suicide bombing on a school bus that killed twenty first graders. So, why do we tolerate mass shootings that do the same?
There are more than twenty mass shootings every year in America and over a hundred people are shot every day...but the NRA tells us that we can't do something about guns?
The rest of the developed world figured this out long ago. In countries from Australia to England, from Switzerland to Israel, you have to prove that you actually have a need for a gun in order to either buy or own one. Ditto for ammunition.
We should do the same here in America.
And for those who actually do need a weapon - be it for hunting or their line of work - let's at least require the same proof of proficiency and insurance that we require from licensed drivers.
Increasingly, Americans are recognizing the blood-soaked gun lobby as the pariahs they are, who have done far more damage to America than Osama bin Laden ever dreamed of.