In the last few days I have been amazed by the amount of chatter surrounding even the remote possibility involving weapons ban or control. And many, even in my office, have publicly stated some sentiment similar to:
“When they come for my gun, they will have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.”
Some have gone further, publicly stating gun ownership is a “God” given right. Personally, a God given right is hard to euphorically claim, for one simply cannot find any Biblically documented reference to the right to keep and bear arms. However, in a speech to the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Celebration of American Values Leadership Forum, Newt Gingrich stated the right to bear arms is a political right designed to safeguard freedom so that no government can take away from you the rights, which God has given you.
Still, with the entire back and forth on the whole controlling weapons ban, the most distressing statement came straight from the National Rifle Association:
“The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
The NRA statement literally means the only way to stop monsters is to arm the shit out of everyone. In truth, that’s so far whacked-out even most reasonable gun owners would classify the argument as ignorant.
My counterpoint to the NRA actually comes from a Gil Grissom of the TV show CSI, “We stopped checking for monsters under our bed because we realized they were inside us.” It means that we are the monsters. We, as a society, created the monsters. Want to see who’s responsible, look in the mirror.
Picking up the NRA argument, if society really wants to stop these “monsters,” then we must address societal problems that create monsters. Here are just a few:
- In 2011 the Census Bureau indicated 16.4 million children in the United States lived in poverty. That’s roughly 22%. Of the 16.4 million poor children, nearly half, 7.4 million, lived in extreme poverty, which is defined as an annual income of less than half the official poverty line (i.e., $11,157 for a family of four). You want to fix monsters, start lifting the country out of poverty.
- A third of families headed by single mothers are in poverty, and they are four times more likely than married-couple families to be poor. These mothers have little access to quality education, healthcare and other services afforded to high, more educated and or affluent. When single mothers have a full-time, year-round job, the poverty rate for these families falls from 40.7 percent to 14 percent. You want to fix monsters, start educating the poor for real jobs.
- If there is one thing that Americans do seem to agree on, it is that millions of children desperately need guidance from positive adult role models. Proper mentoring often means 12 years of continuous mentoring at least four hours per week — typically beginning in kindergarten and extending until high school graduation. If you want to fix monsters, everyone needs to mentor someone.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps track of one class of underemployed workers, which it calls “involuntary part-time workers,” that is, workers who want full-time employment but cannot get it. According to BLS, the number of these workers has risen even faster than the number of unemployed workers since the beginning of the recession. As of September there were 9.2 million such workers. Between Sept. 2010 and Jan. 2011, nearly two million college graduates under the age of 30 were working in jobs that did not require a college degree. If you want to fix monsters, we must fix our economic structure.
Monsters whom shoot and kill come from us. So in all fairness, I briefly reviewed the NRA Foundation website. There is also another group called the Friends of NRA. NRA field representatives coordinate Friends of NRA, but the majority of the program is organized by thousands of volunteers throughout the country. The NRA Foundation claims to have donated $160 million for programs involving, Civil Rights Defense Fund (Legal Assistance for Those Defending a Right to Bear Arms), Competitive Shooting, Eddie Eagle (a children’s gun safety based program), Education and Training, Freedom Action Foundation (getting people to the ballot box), Hunter Safety, Police Firearms Safety, Media Outreach, National Firearms Museum, NRA-ILA (lobbying).
According to Wikipedia, during the 2008 presidential campaign, the NRA spent $10 million. In 2011, the organization refused an offer to discuss gun control with U.S. President Barack Obama. In response to the invitation, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said “Why should I or the N.R.A. go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States?” In his statement, LaPierre named Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (both Democrats) as examples of the “people” he referred.
During the 2012 election, the NRA spent more than $17 million on presidential and congressional contests, $11.9 million opposing Democrats and $5.4 million in support of Republicans. In the end, All six Democrats won their races against Republicans.
With all that money spent, I beg to ask, just how many “monsters,” if any, did we help?