The Journal Gazette
Thursday, January 25, 2018 1:00 am

How soon can we start?

Exposing NRA's agenda first step toward reducing nation's gun deaths

Dr. Phil Wright

Bob Aldridge was in the paper again with his extremist views, promoting any and every gun in America (“Simple-minded naiveté,” Jan. 9). Apparently, in his thinking, there can never be enough guns in this country.

He never addresses the fact that in countries where there are fewer guns and no public ownership of high-capacity and assault rifles, they don't have the insane record of 30,000 to 40,000 gun deaths per year that we have. He also ignores the fact that there is no legitimate use for high-power, high-capacity assault rifles in the hands of the public. The only legitimate need is by the military and law enforcement. Assault rifles are designed for one thing: killing people, not hunting. If you can't hit a deer with something short of an assault rifle, when they are in every yard and field, you are such a bad shot it is hard to think you are safe handling a slingshot.

Aldridge is so blinded by his common sense-bereft views that he brings up the Sutherland Springs, Texas massacre, where 26 people were mowed down, as if it were some kind of victory because the shooter was eventually stopped by someone with an assault rifle. He seems to say that this proves that flooding America with such firearms is a good thing. In a town where most people have a firearm, 26 people were dead before the NRA guy finally got around to killing the perpetrator. Some victory that was.

But that's the problem with his thinking. Will there have to be one person in every pew in church designated as the required assault rifle carrier, or would every person be packing in his ideal world? If everyone pulls out a gun, confusion ensues. No one wears a label as a “good guy” or a “bad guy,” and more people die. The solution isn't more guns so we can shoot the shooters. We are living that nightmare now. The solution is having fewer shooters. If only that shooter had attacked with knives and swords. Interpersonal conflicts are not best solved with firearms.

So what do we get from the National Rifle Association (the marketing arm of gun manufacturers)? A radical set of policies. They refuse to allow for even the lightest restrictions on ownership. Why not learn from other countries where guns are not freely available to every criminal and the mentally ill?

NRA advocates tell us regulation doesn't work, that it will take a long time to have an effect. That is precisely because of NRA-sponsored, fear-based thinking leading to the present regulatory laxity that has flooded the country with firearms. Just because we have gotten it so wrong for so long doesn't mean we shouldn't be moving toward the better, less-death-filled way.

The NRA has worked hard to keep people from knowing the truth about firearms and their effect on public health and death rates by pushing legislation prohibiting federal health experts from doing government-funded research on the subject. What truths are they hiding from? They say they don't trust the government to get it right, but we trust government-sponsored research in all other areas of health and safety. And they do it well.

And please don't quote the Second Amendment to me (NRA folks never quote the whole amendment, even though it is only one sentence long and contains the term “well-regulated” right in it.) Try to go out and buy a shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missile, which could allow you to take out a 747 full of people and which falls under the category of “arms.” You can't. It is against the law.

So arms are now, and always will be, regulated. Period. It is just a question of where you draw the line on how regulated they will be.

Legitimate gun owners should all take a breath. When reason returns to gun regulation, there will not be an American gestapo going door to door to confiscate arms. Remember, that was what the NRA said Barack Obama was going to do. Didn't happen. They scared you into buying sprees. Not necessary. Are you mentally ill? Are you a criminal? Do you have a restraining order? If so, maybe you shouldn't have firearms, and better regulations would make it harder for you to get them . But if you are not, why do you care if we keep those people from getting guns? And stop it with the “slippery slope” idea; we regulate cars to save lives and they haven't come to take yours away.

Why is it then, that perfectly intelligent legislators won't enact such common-sense laws? When a legislator acts in a way that doesn't make sense, it isn't hard to figure out. To cite those who solved Watergate: Follow the money. Legislators are afraid to offend their big donors: the NRA, gun manufacturers and right-wing extremists. They fear they will get “primaried.” That is, someone further to the right will be brought in to replace them in a primary election to do the NRA's extreme bidding.

So you members of the NRA: Guns are not toys; they are inherently dangerous. You never know when your place of worship or workplace or concert will be next.

Tell the NRA to stop pushing for allowing criminals and the mentally ill, especially those with restraining orders, to have easy access to arms. And don't contribute to the NRA until they change. Although the NRA tries to say otherwise, polls have shown the majority of Americans want better, more sensible gun regulations. It is high time Congress listened to the people rather than the NRA and the gun manufacturers' money. If they do, though it will take time, our rate of gun deaths will begin to decline from its present obscenely high rate.

Dr. Phil Wright is a Huntertown resident.

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