Thursday, December 27, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #88 - Part 4

Outrage of the Week: NRA, the right wing, and gun violence

This week I have outrages piled on outrages.

Last week, I spent the entire show talking about guns. At that time, when I taped the show on Wednesday, the NRA, the Nutzoid Rabbit-brains of America, which claims to be an association of hunters and target shooters but actually is just a lobbyist for the gun manufacturers, hadn't spoken yet but was expected to do so in a couple of days. I said that I expected nothing new from them. I was right.

Instead of offering anything constructive or showing any sense of responsibility, NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPepeLePew blamed the Newtown massacre on anything and everything except guns. It was video games. It was movies. It was the media. It was "monsters" in our midst.

Which is nonsense: For one thing, violent video games and violent movies are played and viewed in nations around the world without producing anywhere near the levels of bloodshed seen here. Indeed, some of the most violent games and movies come out of Japan, which has almost no gun violence at all.

Still, that was just prologue. LaPepeLePew's central contention was that the problem is that there are not enough guns around, that not enough people are packing heat, including in schools. In fact, his answer to Newtown was to have armed cops in every school in the US. Because, he said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

A quick reminder here that one of these mass shootings being ended by the shooter being taken down by a civilian playing Rambo has never happened - while there are examples of unarmed people subduing the shooter, the case of the shooting of Gabriel Giffords and others being one.

The NRA called it a press conference even though LaPepeLePew took no questions. His statement was widely regarded as anything from "tone-deaf" to "bizarre." But it may not have been the worst.

For example, the right-wing rag National Review, whose own editorial suggested Newtown was just the price we pay for the great freedom of the Second Amendment, published a piece from this twit named Charlotte Allen which argued that the massacre of the innocents happened because Newtown was a “feminized setting,” with no male teachers or other personnel present. As she put it:
Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.
Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach were killed trying to rush the shooter. I guess Allen thinks that all that combat training you get in high-school football would have served better.

Then there are those who know the real cause: James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said Newtown was God's judgment for abortion and same-sex marriage. And Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association insisted that God did not protect the victims because organized prayer had been removed from public schools 50 years earlier.

But there's an even bigger outrage, which is that if we ask what to do about the levels of murderous gun violence in the US, it can be hard to say: In 1996, the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, was effectively banned from doing any research related to gun violence. In 2011, that ban was extended to all agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health. Washington and Florida have done similar things on the state level and similar bills have been proposed in seven more. I'd say it was like a twisted version of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, except that it reminds me more of some stereotyped Marlon Brando capo di tutti capi going "Don't tell me - I don't want to know."

But the biggest is the violence itself. As of Christmas Day, at least 190 people in the US had been killed by guns since Newtown. That is a minimum, by actual count based on newspaper reports.

There are about 36,000 deaths from car accidents each year in the United States and about 31,000 gun-related deaths. That includes all gun deaths: by murder, suicide, and accidental discharge. That's a rate of about 11.87 auto deaths per 100000 people and about 10.19 gun deaths per 100,000 people. So more people die in car accidents than by guns. But car deaths are down by 31% over the past 20 years and the number of gun-related deaths continuing to rise year after year. It is now projected that those two trendlines will cross in about 2015.

In fact, for ten states - Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington - those lines have already crossed. In those ten states, already more people die as the result of guns than in car accidents. And that will be the state of the entire nation in a couple of years.

And if you don't find that an outrage, you may be one of those "monsters" Wayne LaPepeLePew warned us about - either that or you are Wayne LaPepeLePew.


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