March 25, 2018 article reprinted with permission of the Delaware County Daily Times
By Joseph Batory
The United States makes up about 4.4 percent of the global population, but we also own 42 percent of the world’s guns. According to the Gun Violence Archive (a not-for-profit corporation), so far just in three months of 2018, there have been more than 10,000 gun-related incidents with more than 2,700 people having died and nearly 5,000 injured.
Our latest episode of mass killing was 17 innocent victims at Parkland High School in Florida. This provided the usual forum for a host of political hypocrites to offer empty “thoughts and prayers,” but nothing of any substance to address this sad state of America. The reality is that there are not likely to be any significant political initiatives to curtail this continuous American epidemic of killing. Why? Because the gun control issue is first and foremost about “money” and that is what rules our nation.
The latest statistics available (2013) revealed that there were 10.8 million pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and miscellaneous firearms manufactured just in that one year here in the USA, according to the federal Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The annual revenues for gun and ammunition manufacturing industry are well over $13 billion with a $1.5 billion profit. The annual revenue of gun and ammunition stores exceeds $3.1 billion with a $478.4 million profit.
The gun industry will do anything to sustain itself. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is heavily subsidized by gun businesses and far-right-leaning individuals and organizations. It spends huge sums of money for its political advertising via television and newspaper campaigning and direct mail. The NRA propaganda is an ongoing fantasy about “guns being symbolic of American freedom” and “gun availability being in no way related to gun violence.”
Such absurd premises are used by the NRA to manipulate voters and control election outcomes. In the 2016 election, $20 million was spent by the NRA on nationwide advertising to support its puppet NRA political candidates. This does not include another $11 million which the NRA spent on advertising to support Donald Trump’s campaign.
Added to this is $4 million NRA dollars (thankfully limited by campaign limits) distributed to individual members of Congress since 1998. But it is primarily the NRA’s questionable messaging that has built the base of true believer voters to ultimately create fear among cowardly politicians (mostly Republican).
The NRA is also the master of distraction, having successfully moved politicians and the public away from the real issue of why anyone in America needs to have a semiautomatic rifle “killing machine.” The NRA is now pushing for a contrived “money-maker” for the gun industry, which would turn schools into “armed camps.”
Putting masses of weaponry into the hands of school staff is an outrageous concept and fraught with real danger. Carelessness, mistakes, misjudgments, accidents and inappropriate use of guns would very likely lead to much more violence in schools than now exists. Meanwhile, the very ideals of schools as “safe and supportive” environments for young people would be desecrated. The NRA idea of more guns in schools is little more than “smoke and mirrors” to obfuscate the real issue.
Schools can certainly be made more secure without creating a wild west atmosphere of gun-toting teachers and principals. And, curtailing/removing access to semi-automatic rifles in the USA should be the first defense to prevent more mass murders anywhere.
In summary, the NRA emergence as the “guiding light” of our nation is preposterous. Endorsed by a politically divided Supreme Court by 5-4 vote in 2008, the NRA posits an absurd interpretation of the antiquated Second amendment written about muskets and militias more than 200 years ago. The NRA mythology is that the Framers of the Constitution would today endorse the possession of semi-automatic assault rifles and other military weapons for one and all as some fulfillment of a “sacred” Second amendment. But this NRA position is little more than a “legacy of blood, political corruption and corporate greed,” one that has our Founding Fathers spinning angrily in their graves. The Constitution of the United States was never meant to allow/condone mass murders like those at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 26 people, including 20 children, were slaughtered in five minutes with a semi-automatic rifle.
In 1991, Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, a lifelong conservative, called the NRA’s Gun Control interpretation of the Second amendment “one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat, fraud – on the American public … that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
Joseph Batory is the former superintendent of schools in Upper Darby. He is the author of three books and has been widely published on politics and education.