A toxic mixture of insecure masculinity, politically amplified fears, race prejudice, and anti-government paranoia feeds America’s dangerous gun culture.
These forces were not invented by the NRA, but the NRA has cynically manipulated them to build itself into a powerful force for mass marketing the idea that more weapons in private hands is the solution to our violence problems, not its root.
Rather than argue that guns have a legitimate, but restricted place in our society as tools for hunting and self-defense (as the original NRA did in decades long past), the NRA glorifies firearms ownership, imposes a fundamentalist interpretation of the Second Amendment, and shields firearms marketers from any responsibility – even as they sell millions of weapons designed for military combat to virtually anyone who can afford one.
In order to stifle debate, the NRA attacks anyone who offers even the mildest common sense measures to regulate the sale of weapons. They work to suppress research and documentation of gun violence to deprive their opponents of useful data that might undermine their extremist positions. But their evil is most evident when, in response to repeated school massacres, they distract from the consequences of irresponsible gun policy by relentlessly pushing proposals for arming teachers.
Earlier this week, the NRA’s absurd “more guns for school safety” proposals were (once again) echoed by President Trump. He continued to claim that the NRA is “on our side” even as he maneuvered to contain the growing fury aroused by the Valentine’s Day massacre of 17 Florida high-school students.
That is a lot of bad news. The good news is the awakening on this issue that is happening all across our beautiful country. Brilliant student survivors, joined by LGBTQ community folk who became active after the 2016 Pulse dance club massacre descended on the Florida state capital last week and are having real impact.
Outrage at politics as usual on guns is so strong that yesterday Trump “shocked” a Republican gathering with vague talk of “comprehensive gun control” (even as he continued to advocate for arming teachers and other school personnel). We don’t buy the change of heart, but we do celebrate that popular pressure is forcing this “big fan of the NRA” to distance himself from their toxic “more guns is always better” talking points.
Nationally the NRA is being abandoned by corporations that usually lay low on this issue. In a break with NRA orthodoxy Dick’s Sporting Goods no longer sell assault rifles or high capacity magazines nor will they sell firearms to anyone under 21 years of age. Walmart and Kroger are likewise adopting voluntary restrictions. A growing list of major corporations have cut commercial ties to the NRA – these include airlines like Delta and United; car rental agencies like Enterprise, Hertz and Avis; movers North American Van Lines and Allied Van Lines; and life insurance companies like MetLife.
Common sense gun control is back by popular demand, and – like it or not – will be a big part of the 2018 mid-term election debate.
Keeping the momentum alive for effective gun policy reform will be one of the aims Global Exchange’s Town Hall Summer 2018 project that looks to build civic momentum by organizing regional meetings of people who are working on a broad range of issues: climate, peace, immigrant rights, worker justice, black lives matter, #metoo, gun law reform; ending the drug war, criminal justice reform, health care for all, and more.
Moving together in a common sense direction on gun policy is part of breaking out of “issue silos” that have compartmentalize and held back our movements.
Tomorrow we want to work with you and everyone who’s interested in building a people’s movement to take back our world and the course of history from those who seek to endlessly plunder the planet and extinguish our hopes.
People know we need to change course, but too many of us feel powerless. That is the first thing we have to change.