Editor: Firearm deaths in America are a public health crisis. Firearm suicides and homicides are among the top five causes of death for almost all age groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 35,000 Americans are killed each year by firearms, comparable to the annual deaths in auto accidents. In 2015, about 61,000 Virginians died violent death by firearms, and almost 900 met the same fate in Loudoun County. In both cases, suicide accounted for the largest share, 72% and 70%, respectively.
The Congressional Research Service reported that the United States has had about 30 mass shootings annually for the past 30 years! Based on Department of Justice data, between 1999 and 2011, CRS has reported the average number of mass homicides using guns was 80 per year over the period. It also reported that the United States has had about 30 mass shootings annually for the past 30 years!
The political environment has become so toxic largely a consequence of the NRA’s cynical weaponization of the Second Amendment and their cry of wolf, their hysterical warnings of mass gun confiscation. They regularly fabricate images of jack-booted federal troops invading homes to confiscate the roughly 310 million guns from the 55 million American gun owners.
Aside from the fear-mongering, the NRA’s self-righteous claim of protecting the Second Amendment is at its core, based on a willfully concocted Constitutional fantasy. The NRA cynically mischaracterize the Supreme Court’s 2008 landmark decision on the meaning of the Second Amendment case, District of Columbia v Heller.
The Court affirmed “an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
Then the Court noted: “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose …”
To drive the point home, the Court warned that its opinion “should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of fire-arms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
The National Rifle Association, representing the cabal of gun manufacturers–the sole interest of which is increasing gun sales and profits—is wholly reliant on the votes of their NRA-funded Congressional allies, who refuse to even consider stronger background checks for gun purchases.
NRA’s arrogance is a facade behind which lurks the fear that Congress could be swayed by the truth. So in 1996, the NRA convinced a Republican Congressman, the late Jay Dickey of Arizona, to offer an amendment to an omnibus spending bill that eliminated funding for an existing Center for Disease Control research initiative on gun violence. Since then, the “Dickey amendment” has been regularly reinserted in spending bills, a contemporary version of the old strategy of “keep ‘em ignorant and down on the plantation.”
The NRA and the gun lobby’s efforts to obscure the relationship between the prevalence and accessibility of guns, mass shootings, homicides, and suicides is politically irresponsible, and morally reprehensible.
Randy Ihara, South Riding