Wayne La Pierre And His Kernel of Truth

“The border today remains porous to criminals whose jobs are murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping … After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark … Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection. And the American people know it … Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face – not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival … We will stand and fight!”

– by Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President, NRA, in the Daily Caller

In addition to its inaccuracies, this was an incredible fear-mongering rant invoking immigrants, hurricanes, racism, and dystopia – a view which in LaPierre’s mind can only be solved by Americans buying more guns. This notion – what’s good for manufacturers of fire arms and bullets, is good for the U.S.A. – is not even believed by most N.R.A. members who in polls support reasonble gun safety legislation.

Apparently for LaPierre extremism in the defense of gun sales is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of gun safety is no virtue. As with comments made by failed political candidates Todd Akin (“legitimate rape”) and Richard Mourdock (pregnancy resulting from rape was “something God intended”) his attitude may work against the more zealous Second Amendment advocates and in favor of those with calmer minds.

Nonetheless, La Pierre touches on an important aspect of gun violence. Most of the attention recently has focused on mass shootings such as those in Newton, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Aurora, and not on  the daily pervasive gun violence in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control more than 31,000 people a year in the United States die from gunshot wounds. In addition in 2010 there were an estimated 337,960 non-fatal violence crimes committed with guns, and 73,505 persons treated in hospital emergency departments for non-fatal gunshot wounds.

In New Jersey last year there were 374 homicides – the largest numbers occuring in our urban areas. “It’s a proliferation of firearms on our streets,” Camden’s Police Chief Scott Thomson said. Firearms are readily available and casually sold from the trunk of a car. For people willing to purchase such guns, laws regarding the type of firearm, the number of clips in a magazine, and  proper I.D. card are not an important consideration.  

The measures proposed by our legislators are important and necessary but insufficient as firearms can be easily brought in from nearby less restrictive states. So in the meantime trafficking will remain a significant problem – insurmountable by local law enforcement and the courts.

The proposed state bills are important and will help, but it’s federal laws that are essential. As a Johns Hopkins expert explains, “The weaknesses in current federal firearms laws are the reason that many gun traffickers, criminals, underage youth, and other prohibited individuals are able to obtain firearms in the underground market.” LaPierre’s kernel of truth was  to speak about a broader problem – the pervasiveness of gun violence, which he incorrectly seeks to solve through more of the same.

The task of passing significant legislation will not be easy. Urge your State legislators, congressmen and Senators to stand and fight LaPierre and his ilk.  

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