How America’s Gun Politics Got Broken
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How America’s Gun Politics Got Broken


USA - May 24, 2018

How it all started.

After the Constitution was ratified in 1788, the founders took to writing a Bill of Rights to assuage the concerns raised by anti-federalists. Aware of criticisms about the federal government’s powers over state militias, they included on December 15, 1791 the Second Amendment in this context.

Reciting the law: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

In other words, Americans collectively had legal access to guns to take part in the militia, but the Second Amendment did not protect any rights beyond that.

As for what constitutes a militia, the founders were purposely vague, leaving it to Congress to define. In those times, the militias were armed by states and the federal government for law enforcement and security. Speaking in modern terms, it is the National Guard, essentially.

Prior to the 1930s, the federal government had a very limited role in gun policy, but with an increase in homicides and crime and expansion of federal powers, Congress and the White House enacted in 1934 the National Firearms Act. Weapons involved in new restrictions were the sawed-off shotgun, machine guns, and suppressors.

With the rapid increase in crime in the ’60s, the federal government again passed a new

series of gun restrictions, particularly the Gun Control Act of 1968

The Change.

Originally from its founding in 1871, the National Rifle Association of America was not really much in the way of politics but a hobbyist group with a focus on marksmanship and hunting. And that changed in 1977, creating powerful lobby.

Now we know that change as the Cincinnati Revolt. During the organization’s meeting in Cincinnati, Harlon Carter and his few hardline supporters, took control of the organization, placing him in charge. Their idea was that if the federal government were given an inch in regulating guns, it would take a mile, ending up with guns banned altogether. It was at this point that the NRA truly became the gun lobby.

But NRA describing itself as “America's longest-standing civil rights organization” and they really wants you to think of it that way because it frames the organization as essentially a public interest group, alongside groups like the ACLU and NAACP. That framing is the reason the NRA pops up in every debate about gun control and if you think of the NRA as a group that represents gun owners, you can't really debate gun policy without them.

The truth is that 5 million NRA members of the American population 325.7 million is a small group of people who claim to speak for the majority. Most of the gun owners aren't members of the NRA.

This is an organization that receives millions of dollars every year from gun companies directly, millions more through advertisements.

There’s nothing new about that NRA giving money to politicians, but do know how much money the NRA gets from gun companies?

Every year, gun manufacturers donate millions of dollars to the NRA through its corporate partners program.

Some of them sponsor specific NRA projects like “Empower the People,” sponsored by Sig Sauer or “Love at First Shot,” sponsored by Smith & Wesson.

Other gun companies give money directly to the NRA, and ones that donate over a million dollars get to be part of something called the NRA’s “Golden Ring of Freedom.” An honor given to those who make significant contributions to the NRA’s defense of the Second Amendment. That “Golden Ring of Freedom” includes companies like Beretta, Remington, Bushmaster, and Smith & Wesson. The NRA’s so-called “corporate partners” in the gun industry are the nation’s top-selling manufacturers of firearms and accessories. One of the companies that has donated a million dollars or more to the NRA is Remington Outdoor Company (formerly Freedom Group), manufacturer of the Bushmaster assault rifle used at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Other top donors to the NRA include gunmakers Smith & Wesson, Beretta USA, Springfield Armory, and Sturm, Ruger & Co; as well as accessories vendors MidwayUSA and Brownells.

The NRA doesn't disclose how much money it gets from these donations but as documented in the Violence Policy Center report “Blood Money II: How Gun Industry Dollars Fund the NRA” (2013), the firearms industry has donated between $19.3 million and $60.2 million to the NRA since 2005

Moreover, some companies donate a portion of every gun sale directly to the NRA. Taurus buys an NRA membership for every customer who buys one of their guns. In 2015, Sturm Ruger launched a campaign donating $2 to the NRA for every gun they sold, which explains why so much NRA programming looks like a gun ad. The NRA makes millions more by selling ad space to gun companies in publications like American Rifleman.

The NRA is the group that makes money when people buy guns and their priority is protecting the product.

Actually, this is very smart marketing strategy, and nothing more.

After mass shootings gun sales usually spike, because according to common logic, to stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun like in the Sutherland Springs shooting where a former NRA instructor Stephen Willeford stopped a shooter with an AR-15…

But what is more important in this particular case: the fact that he was the NRA member or the fact that he had enough courage and experience to confront the shooter (who was already prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition)?

They work so hard to convince their members that the government is coming to take away their guns. And if you convince people the government is coming for your guns, they'll buy more.

So, is the NRA about prevention and keeping communities safe or not? Obviously, it’s not.

Congress and the gun industry regulation

In reality, the Supreme Court and US lawmakers — backed by the NRA and other powerful gun lobby, widely agree that the Second Amendment does put barriers on how far restrictions can go and that would likely rule out a repeal of the Second Amendment.

No wonder why the only gun legislation in Congress after Sandy Hook that came close to becoming law (The Manchin-Toomey proposal in 2013) didn’t establish universal background checks and explicitly bans the federal government from creating a registry and creates a new penalty for misusing records to create a registry - a felony punishable by 15 years in prison. Recent proposals have been even more useless, taking small steps like banning bump stocks or slightly improving the existing system for background checks.

And still no one in Congress is seriously proposing sweeping law changes.

Why the gun regulation update is so important for America?

Although they get a lot of focus, mass shootings are a small portion of all gun violence. So while politicians often lean on mass shootings to call for gun control, the problem goes far beyond those incidents. Let’s have a look at some key figures and facts.

1. Of the more than 33,000 gun deaths that occurred in 2013, 21,175 were suicides. The success of any suicide attempt depends primarily on the lethality of the means employed – and guns are the most lethal means available.

2. The completion of any suicide attempt depends primarily on the lethality of the means employed, and guns are the most lethal means available. Approximately 85 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm are fatal.

3. 93 percent of murder-suicides involve a gun, almost always involve a male killing his spouse or family, and four out of five times occur in the home.

4. Only four states have some form of law requiring gun owners to safely store their guns when not in use – a practice linked to lower rates of accidental shootings. There is no federal law requiring that guns be stored securely. The only state with an comprehensive safe-storage law is Massachusetts. It requires gun owners to keep their firearms in a locked container or render them inoperable unless they are under their control or that of other “lawfully authorized” users. Three other states — California, Connecticut and New York — require guns to be locked up when not in use in certain situations, including when gun owners live with convicted felons or domestic abusers.

5. Hospital costs for firearm injuries total $622 million per year. A new study (Injury Epidemiology, 2017) offers one of the best estimates yet of the staggering financial toll that gun injuries impose on our country: $622 million per year in hospital bills. A third of all firearm hospitalizations are covered by Medicare and Medicaid, at a taxpayer cost of $242 million per year — more than the amounts paid out by private insurance or self-paying patients. The study also found that the average bill for an individual hospitalization from a firearm injury is over $20,000 — more than double the cost of a typical hospital stay.

6. The NRA spent an unprecedented $419 million during the 2016, up from $312 million the prior year. An audit of the National Rifle Association’s 2016 finances revealed that its support for congressional candidates translated into a record outlay for the organization. While that total includes the NRA’s entire operating expenses, political spending likely accounted for the bulk of the increase. In the first quarter, the group spent $2.3 million on direct lobbying — more than double what it’s spent in any previous quarter.

7. By 2017, gun deaths rose above 100 per day. The national firearm death rate climbed to 12 per 100,000 people in 2016, according to a preliminary estimate from the Centers for Disease Control. The crude death rate for firearm-related injury for the 12-month period ending with 2017 Q3 was 12.1, which is higher than the crude death rate of 11.8 for the 12-month period ending with 2016 Q3.That amounts to more than 38,000 deaths.

8. 21 states have recorded increases in gun suicides between 1991 and 2015 Firearm suicides claim more lives than any other type of gun violence. Alaska and North Dakota fared worst: their gun-suicide rates grew by 86 and 77 percent, respectively.

9. Every week, 136 children and teenagers are shot. A CDC-authored analysis of childhood firearm injuries, published in the journal Pediatrics in 2017, offers a grim tally of the toll of gun violence on children. The majority of underage shooting victims are teens, but the study also found that more than 900 children aged 12 and younger are shot each year. Twenty-two percent of those shootings are fatal.

10. A survey of gun owners offers the latest estimate of how many Americans are carrying loaded firearms: three million every day, and nine million at least once a month. The vast majority cite self-defense as their primary reason for carrying. Another report, drawing on the same survey data, found that 43 percent of gun owners who own a handgun for protection have received no formal firearms training.

The Pandora box is wide open and the government just unable to take really needs to stop this man made epidemic.

Author: USA Really