Among all the arguments (here and on other boards) since Newtown one thing has become clear. We are not talking the same language.
To most of us it is a justice, political, economic or practical issue: the lack of consistent national regulations on firearms result in many unnecessary deaths.
To the Second Amendment absolutists we are attacking their religion, period. They have a sacred 27-Word Gospel that must be upheld above all other rights, religions or people; even if it results in the deaths of 32,000 Americans annually (and rising).
So I propose that those of us that wish to change the situation to reduce the carnage have to understand how the religious mindset works. Really it is no different than "pro-life" people that murder as a way to satisfy their god or the Taliban that murders girls for daring to educate themselves: it is all about dogma and the only thing that defeats dogma is education and exposure of the zealous ideas that benefit a few at the expense of others.
Below the fold I will expand on their sacred texts, which explain why we will never be able to convince them that their religion can/should be changed to accommodate other people's rights (in the same way that the Catholic Church will never be convinced to ordain women).
1. The Gospel
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.2. The Supporting Texts:
Probably none better exemplifies their companion sacred texts like:
Guns don't kill people ... (courtesy of twigg)and the many variants of that sacred text, which just like all other sacred mantras must be repeated often.
The best recent explanation of these other sacred texts was actually diaried today by AlecMN in the diary called Top Ten Reasons We Do Not Need Gun Control. A fine compendium of their sacred texts that protect the sacred Gospel, and nothing stands out more than the fear of getting their idols taken away:
2) Registering Stuff Means It Gets Taken Away.Now on that topic there was a great diary written a few days ago by kavip going over the facts that it would take diligent federal regulators over 80 years to confiscate all those guns. (kavip also covers the "Hitler regulated guns in Germany and look what happened!" sacred text as well as anyone else can discuss such a ridiculous notion.)
Before we move on, we must visit the most popular sacred text the NRAvangelicals use: MENTAL HEALTH IS WHAT KILLS PEOPLE! Not much to expand on that as we don't need to beat a crazy dead horse.
So don't try to argue articles of faith with logic - it is futile! NRAvangelicals will only get more rabid and recite their sacred texts again and again no matter what number, logic or reason you may have. Reason has no power against articles of faith, just ask the witches of Salem or the people that lived under the Inquisition. Faith trumps all!
Now that does not mean that the NRAvangelicals are not welcome to comment, not at all! detroitmechworks always welcomes them with a great video/comment like this. I will limit myself to wishing them a Happy New Year.
3. The Real Power (i.e. their Vatican)
Just like any large religion, NRAvangelism can only be sustained with loads of cash and also with properly placed political dummies. We are all familiar with how Congress is owned by the NRA, mostly Republicans, but sadly 26 House Democrats openly took money from them just this past year and one Senate Democrat (Manchin). Open Secrets has a great little tool to see how much money is thrown around and to whom it goes. Nothing sums up their influence over Congress like this blog by the Sunlight Foundation does (portions below, but whole post is well worth reading, LINK, particularly for their graphics showing the magnitude of the NRA influence in the House/Senate):
Of the 435 members of the new House, 205 – or 47 percent – received some money from the NRA during the last campaign. More than half have taken NRA money at some point in their career. Of the Senate’s 100 members, 42 received contributions this past cycle and exactly half have received contributions at some point in their career. All told, 88 percent of Republicans now in Congress have received a contribution from the NRA at some point in their career, as have 11 percent of Democrats.So we thought the Obama Campaign had a great ground game? Wrong! According to Slate nothing surpasses the NRA's ground game:
The NRA’s beneficiaries include key players such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. Sessions, one of the NRA’s top recipients ($4,950 this cycle, $64,000 over his career), will serve as the chairman of the House Rules Committee next year, a post that puts him in a position to decide what legislation gets onto the House floor, and what does not. Reid received $4,950 from the NRA the last time he ran (2010), and has received $10,450 over his career.
In the House, the majority party can exercise near complete control over the legislative agenda, and that majority party next year will still be the Republicans – a party where the NRA has many friends. We find that 81 percent of the House Republican Conference (189 of 233 members) received some money from the NRA in their most recent campaigns, and 88 percent (204 of 233) have received NRA money at some point in their careers; Among House Democrats, 8 percent (16 of 201) received NRA money this cycle, and 10 percent (21 of 201) have ever received NRA money.
In the Senate, 84 percent of Republicans (38 of 45) received NRA money during their most recent election, and 93 percent (42 of 45) have received contributions at some point. Among Democrats, 8 percent (4 of 53) received contributions the last time they ran, and 15 percent (8 of 53) have received contributions at some point.
More than anything, these numbers help us to identify who the NRA considers its friends in Congress, and something about the closeness of those friendships.
It is also important to note that the vast majority of the NRA’s $18.6 million in political spending this past cycle went to independent expenditures, including $13.1 million into the presidential race. ... While the NRA’s spending this election failed to yield the desired outcomes, the group spends at levels that politicians both fear and crave, which gives it power.
It’s also important to note that for decades, there have been practically no resources and pressures on the other side of the issue. Members know that opposition to gun control brings political rewards (the support of the NRA) while support of gun control brings only political liabilities (the opposition of the NRA). Without a group on the other side, the calculus for members is clear, and explains why the United States has among the most permissive gun ownership laws in the world.
Today, the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, has become expert at maintaining the siege mentality that birthed it. Former NRA leader Wayne LaPierre famously attacked gun control legislation in 1995 as giving “jack-booted government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us.” More recent mailings have claimed that the group is “fighting a multi-front battle with anti-gun radicals in the Obama administration” willing to use “ANY means necessary to DESTROY our freedoms.”And that is just at the Federal/Congressional level. Very important as they know that their agenda is best served by inconsistent gun regulations across different states, which they challenge one by one - although it sounds inefficient this is actually their savior, write laws for the legislatures they control and fight states/cities that have laws they don't like in court. Their influence is so large that (from the New York Times 4/12/2012):
The NRA also has a better ground game than many other lobbying organizations. The group relies on scores of independent gun magazines, thousands of gun shops, and gun clubs across the country to help spread its message well beyond its membership.
That expanded bill, passed with little debate by the Legislature and signed in December by Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, is the newest of more than two dozen so-called Stand Your Ground statutes that have been enacted around the country in recent years. Those laws are now coming under increased scrutiny after Mr. Martin was shot to death by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator, in late February. Similar legislation is pending in several other states, including Alaska, Massachusetts and New York.(emphasis mine)
Though the laws vary in their specifics and scope, they expand beyond the home the places where a person does not have a duty to retreat when threatened, and they increase protection from criminal prosecution and civil liability. All contain elements of the 2005 Florida statute that made it difficult to immediately arrest Mr. Zimmerman, who has said he shot Mr. Martin, who was unarmed, in self-defense.
Critics see the laws as part of a national campaign by the National Rifle Association, which began gathering on Thursday in St. Louis for its annual meeting, to push back against limits on gun ownership and use. That effort, they say, has been assisted by conservative legislators in states like Wisconsin, and by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has promoted model legislation based on Florida’s law; the council, known as ALEC, is a conservative networking organization made up of legislators, corporations like Walmart, a large retailer of long guns, and interest groups like the rifle association.
The success of the campaign is reflected in the rapid spread of expanded self-defense laws as well as laws that legalize the carrying of concealed weapons. Only one state, Illinois, and the District of Columbia now ban that practice, compared with 19 states in 1981. Bills pending in several states that would allow concealed weapons to be carried on college campuses, in churches, in bars or at other sites would further weaken restrictions, as would either of two federal bills, now in the Senate, that would require that a permit for carrying a concealed weapon that was granted by any state be honored in all other states.
So where does that leave progressives that have no interest in taking anyone's guns away but want to stop the carnage of nearly 100 USA gun deaths every single day?
Just think, on the most horrific terrorism attack we had nearly 3,000 people die and we're OK tolerating ten times that, YEAR AFTER YEAR! As a matter of fact if you take all US Citizen deaths in terrorist attacks since 1920, including the horrendous 9/11 attacks the total does not reach 5,000; add to that the 6,520 or so military deaths that have taken place on the War on Terror (includes Iraq and Afghanistan) and we reach a horrific 11,000 to 12,000, but more horrifying yet is that this is the number of homicides committed with guns that we put up with YEAR AFTER YEAR! And of course that doesn't cover one sacred tenet I failed to mention above: SUICIDES DON'T COUNT AS GUN DEATHS! So for those of us that consider suicides and accidental gun deaths as still dead people the total was about 32k last year and it is rising.
We can diary, argue and comment all we want, but until we organize and take on this crisis as the threat it is to our liberties (you know like living in peace or living at all) we will not have much impact. We really need a grass-roots campaign that will take years (and probably decades) to have some impact. Short of that we are just tilting at windmills like Don Quixote. Sure, excellent diary series (like Tom Begnal's Another day in the (gun crazy) U.S.A. started on 12/21/2012 and published every day ever since, and many others) are essential at creating a consciousness of what we are facing, but diaries more will be necessary and in the end some action must result that will change the political paradigm from the current "it is political suicide to take on the NRA" status.
We need to take on the social justice issues related to this (how disproportionately it affects young Black men), the national security (imagine if terrorists were killing 1,000 Americans years after year! we'd sure have action until it was stopped or at least reduced to the 15 or so terrorist deaths that we live with these days), and the economic issues (as diaried by TeacherKen earlier today and based on Eugene Robinson's Column in the WaPo):
Remember, treatment of trauma from gun shot is expensive. It raises medical costs for all us.Just think of the economic impact of saving that many lives and injuries! Half of the costs for the approximately 200 people that go to U.S. emergency rooms every day with gunshot wounds are estimated to be paid by the Government, a few billion a year right there. This is yet another unspoken tenet among NRAvangelicals - never talk about the injured, what it costs to treat them and what they must live with! (just tell Gabby Giffords that the injured don't count either)
Yes, we have wonderful trauma centers, such as the one in Arizona that was able to save the life of Rep. Gabby Giffords. They have surgeons experienced in treating gunshot trauma, including from high-velocity military quality weapons such as the Bushmaster AR-15s used in Newtown, to shoot the firemen near Rochester, and by the DC sniper. Increasingly they are getting the experience not from serving in places like Afghanistan or Iraq, but in inner cities.
Merely on economic grounds, should not we be discussing the cost to all of us of our current perverted gun policy?
What about the morality of legislatively preventing the federal government from collecting data that shows how high the costs of our guns really are? Would we tolerate the automakers prohibiting our keeping statistics on auto deaths? Would the reduction in drunk driving fatalities that we have achieved have been possible had the producers of alcoholic beverages or the professional associations of restaurants and bars been able to prevent collection of data on drunk driving?
Supposed we only halved the death rates, both homicide and suicide, from guns?
That's 15,000 lives / year we would save.
Or what if instead of being 38 times that of Britain our gun homicide rate were only 10 times.
Instead of 11,078 being murdered by gun in 2010, the figure would be 2,915, or a savings of more than 8,600 lives in one year.
So I leave you with a somber poll. Not snark at all, we are probably going to live with guns around us for the rest of my life (I'm in my 50s), and with every product that has a real or perceived societal value we acquiesce (usually silently) to how much societal damage is acceptable in exchange for the societal benefits. Case in point, the automobile - the true American icon with 200-250 million people driving, and just about 100% of Americans enjoying the benefits of a car ride or delivery at some point - results in a lot of deaths and we try to mitigate them (to the point that total annual car fatalities are nearly half what they were 40 years ago, in spite of the number of drivers, cars and passenger miles increasing dramatically over that period), but due to the societal value we put up with a certain number of deaths. Sad and depressing as this line of thinking is, we have to decide how many total deaths and children's deaths are tolerable before we institute some sensible/national firearm regulations that will reduce the number of deaths? (BTW, the same Bloomberg article I quoted above projects that in the next couple of years gun deaths will surpass automobile fatalities.)
I end with the words of TeacherKen: Stop the gun madness