Niagara Gazette

January 6, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Guns: Beyond control or out of control?

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — In light of the shocking murders of twenty children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Grade School on Dec. 14, it’s time to set two points on the table: 1) the Second Amendment is not the inspired word of God and 2) the National Rifle Association is the official lobbying arm of the gun manufacturers.

We should stop accepting the written words of the Founding Fathers as if they are the equivalent writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Founding Fathers were not evangelists and the Constitution is not a divine document. They were real men with human frailties. Some owned slaves. Others sought a modified monarchy and many found the concept of a vote for every man to be strange. At the time the vote was more than a century away for women.

These were men of their times and in those times slavery was accepted, women had few rights and the most dangerous firearm was a muzzle loader. Reality informs us that humans are flawed, technology changes and common sense calls us to adjust in the face of advancing science and an expanding population.

The argument that these mass murders are the unavoidable cost for having a free society is as foolish as the shootings are insane. As the collective body count grows the truth and ugliness of this insanity becomes all the more obvious.

If the horrific deaths on Dec. 14 did anything they forever ended the pointless debate and the nit-picking interpretation of the Second Amendment. No one wants to take away ownership of firearms for law abiding hunters, target shooters and collectors. We know — WE KNOW — that gun owners are overwhelmingly law-abiding citizens. So, knowing this it’s time to move on from there for the good of all.

It’s time to recognize the NRA for what it is: The lobbyist for gun manufacturers. The NRA is working for the gun makers to guarantee the heaviest sales possible of all manner and make of firearms. The pheasant hunter in North Dakota and the target shooter in New York are not their real concern.

It’s also time to identify those elected officials who are in a death grip of indebtedness to the NRA, and due to that indebtedness, slavishly vote the NRA line in return for campaign contributions.

Less than 15 percent of gun owners are members of the NRA. And 75 percent of NRA members support toughening current gun sale laws. These are statistics the NRA doesn’t want you to know as they spread the lie and stoke the paranoia regarding “the government seizing your guns.” Paranoia and lies work wonders for gun sales among those who are inclined to believe lies and experience paranoia.

The number of gun owners in the US has been dropping since the early ‘70s but the number of guns sold has been skyrocketing. That’s because 20 of gun owners now own 65 percent of the guns. The suggestion that every American wants a firearm is false. Fewer individuals want guns but those who want them are obtaining them at an increasing pace and in greater quantities.

If this were a simple matter of the Second Amendment the fix would be proportionately simple. But it’s not and it isn’t. Instead, this is about this nation’s relationship to firearms, a disturbing fascination with firearm firepower by a certain population segment, parenting, mental illness and individual responsibility.

Guns are very much a part of our national DNA. Born of revolution and suffering through a Civil War that claimed over 600,000 lives this nation grew out of a land-grabbing Manifest Destiny that took the continent away from the natives at the point of a gun. No insult intended, just the facts. Our west was the “Wild West” where “gunslingers” engaged in “gunfights” and “gunplay” and the legendary “Peacemaker” pistol was a trusted problem solver. In our lifetime “lone gunmen” have changed the course of national history three times in major ways as they “gunned down” JFK, MLK and RFK.

It’s time to admit that the issue isn’t simply “guns” but rather violence across our culture. The heart of the problem isn’t how we interpret the Second Amendment but the fact that our nation is afraid to admit that we have an over arching problem of violence that hinges on a cultural desensitization to that violence and a fear of moving toward a solution.

The question of guns and gun related violence has to be addressed across the spectrum of all these subject areas of contemporary American society. Until we put everything on the table for a much-needed soul searching national discussion a reasonable solution will remain out of reach.




Kevin Ormsby is a Niagara Falls resident,