Where We Draw The Line

Written: January 2013

The issue of gun control is complex. It’s clearly not the only threat that we face. Lung cancer (see: cigarettes) kills more than 400,000 a year in the United States. Alcohol another 75,000. Even falling coconuts kill 150 people annually around the world. Gun violence is dramatically lower in Great Britain than the U.S. but violent crime is higher. Violent crime in the United States in down 50% over the past two decades but higher in cities with populations over 250,000.

I grew up in a home with guns. My father was a trophy winning skeet shooter and an avid hunter. As I grew older, he’d take me along to go deer hunting or grouse hunting with our Irish setters. He stopped asking me to go after a couple of years when it was apparent that I was never going to do anything with my shotgun but carry it around.

Ironically, I joined the Army at 18 and was handed an assault rifle. I earned an expert marksman medal. I even learned to disassemble and reassemble my M-16 while blindfolded.

My oldest and best friend is a consummate hunter and even has his own hunting show on television. Many of my friends own guns and a few even teach gun safety courses.

I believe that I understand and appreciate the rights of responsible citizens to own sporting firearms. I believe that people in this country should protect and extend their rights including their 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms.

All our rights have some limitations. The question is often where we draw the line.

We have freedom of speech but we cannot use speech to threaten or liable. We have the right to bear arms but not rocket launchers or chemical weapons.

We also cannot look at past views as though they are unalterable. We have been wrong many times and we have needed to change. Slavery. Women’s suffrage. Gay rights.

Automotive deaths have declined due to laws introduced to improve car and driver safety. Lung cancer incidents are beginning to trend lower after rising steadily for 50 years. Drunken driving deaths have decreased by 64% since 1982.

Cognitive dissonance is the mental conflict we feel when our beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. We have new information. It’s now up to us to change.

It’s my view that assault weapons and high capacity magazines should be banned. On the other hand, the NRA disagrees vehemently. In fact, they suggest that the issue is not guns but pretty much everything else. There solution is more guns. Unfortunately, if history repeats itself, they might get their wish.

Why might this be?

According the a Fortune magazine survey, lawmakers consider the NRA the most influential lobby group in the United States. They spend 66 times more on lobbying than the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

74% of NRA funding comes not from it’s over 4 million members but from its corporate partners. 22 of their largest donors are gun manufacturers and a dozen of these produce assault weapons. One of these, Beretta, donated $1 million to the NRA to help fight gun control laws. MidwayUSA, an ammunition and high-capacity magazine seller donated $10 million to the NRA.

There’s a mutually dependent relationship between the NRA and gun/ammunition manufacturers.

Mass shooter James Holmes purchased more than six thousand rounds of ammunition online without any record keeping. This is a direct result of Congress passing the NRA-backed Firearms Owners’ Protection Act. This was is into law by President Reagan in 1986. Prior to passage of this bill, interstate sales to private individuals was banned. Today, the NRA receives millions of dollars from online sales of ammunition and high-capacity magazines through the Round-Up Program. This program encourages buyers to round-up their purchase with the difference going to the NRA.

The head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre makes more than $1 million a year.

Do we really believe that everyone having guns will make us a better country but everyone having health care will destroy us?

Gun violence kills 85 people every day.

500 U.S. Women are shot to death by their partners every year.

April 20, 1999 — Columbine, CO — 13 students and 1 teacher killed. 21 others injured.

April 16, 2007 — Blackburg, VA — 32 students murdered at Virginia Tech University.

November 5, 2009 — Killeen, TX — 13 killed and 32 injured at Fort Hood.

January 8, 2011 — Tucson, AZ — 6 killed and 13 injured in a Safeway parking lot. One of those murdered was a 9-year old girl.

July 20, 2012 — Aurora, CO — Century movie theater — 12 murdered and 58 injured.

August 5, 2012 — Oak Creek, Wi — Six killed and 4 injured at the Sikh temple.

December 14, 2012 — Newtown, CT — 26 gunned down at Shady Hook Elementary school included 20 first-graders.

If an 8-foot Ogre ate 20 children at a Connecticut school, we would do something about the freaking Ogre.

We must do something about the freaking guns.

We can prepare ourselves for violence or we can prepare ourselves for peace. It is our choice.

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Trey Whitaker

Trey Whitaker

Former blogger, CrossFit gym owner, corporate manager, paratrooper, marathoner, youth sports coach and jujitsu black belt. Now happily retired in Maui.