We Reject the Premise
The gun-ban lobby wants us to accept responsibility for the misuse of guns. We reject that, but for our message to gain any traction, we must back it up. I recently had a chance to do that, and it might help you with your responses.
Following the school shooting in Florida, politicians and the media shamelessly repeated their calls for restrictions on guns, including banning the most popular rifles in America before the bodies were even removed from the crime scene. A listener to Gun Talk directed me to a tiny blog where the writer wanted to ban guns, or magazines, or something, as a way to "do something." She seemed sincere, so I offered a few thoughts. You can read the exchange here.
Note that neither I nor others who joined in tried to shout her down, but we offered information, history, facts, and other viewpoints, in hopes that she might realize that her take on the situation was created by a movement bent on banning guns.
Here's one message I posted. Use the information in it wherever you can. "A lie left unchallenged becomes the truth."
It's clear that you are sincere in your concern and your desire to find "a solution." What's also clear is that your base knowledge (what you "know" to be true) is badly flawed. As a result, you don't hear what we are saying, and you dismiss the decades of history those of us who work daily (yes, daily) on these issues have.
Case in point: You said, "I am disappointed that it does not offer any solutions to our national epidemic of mass shootings. I’d like to think we can agree that the background check you point out was cursory at best."
"National epidemic of mass shootings" is a great sound bite, but it simply is not true. This is where what you "know" to be true has positioned you at a place where you can't see or hear the reality. Let me back that up.
It has been claimed that the Florida school shooting is number 18 this year. No less than the Washington Post (hardly a fan of the NRA) debunked that nonsense, pointing out that this number was generated by a gun-ban group co-founded by Michael Bloomberg, who has pledged millions to push for restrictions on gun owners.
Further, Politifact debunked the huge numbers claimed by "Mass Shooting Tracker" and parroted by many politicians that there is an "epidemic of mass shootings."
Politifact: "The Congressional Research Service counted 25 incidents in 2013, compared with 363 incidents counted by Mass Shooting Tracker."
No one is saying that 25 mass shootings is good, but it makes meaningful discussion impossible when one group simply makes up massive numbers to push the gun-ban agenda. You appear to have bought into this popular-but-bogus belief that we have an epidemic of gun violence, or an epidemic of mass shootings, or an epidemic of school shootings. None of those is true.
Are you aware of the school shootings, which have been stopped by students with guns, or staff with guns?
We on the gun-owner side work on this every day. Literally. We have done very, very well. Accidents are down. Murders are down. We have a national background check system (did anyone point out to you that the NRA was instrumental in setting that up?), every gun purchase from a gun dealer (whether at the store or at a gun show) must be approved by the FBI.
You see only the misuse of firearms. We see tens of millions of people shooting billions of rounds a year safely and responsibly, and we see the misuse of guns as a tiny fraction of gun use. There are, by best guesses, 100 million gun owners and 300 million guns in the U.S. If there were, in fact, 25 mass shootings, can one even come up with an understandable number when comparing the legal use of all guns (yes, including semi-automatic sporting rifles) with this number of mass shootings?
Not to sound clinical about this, because we all ache and agonize when innocent people are killed, through any means, but when establishing public policy, one simply must look at the problem realistically, must look at what has been tried, what has worked and what has failed, and only when one has a thorough understanding of what has gone before can one reasonably come up with a plan of action.
How many children have died in school fires in the last 50 years? Zero. Why? Because we pour money into making schools fire-safe. You could build and remodel schools to make them more resistant to intruders, but no one is offering up the billions of dollars that would take. Instead, they take the easy way out. The way that has proven, over time, to not work.
When someone proposes banning any class of gun, I am prompted to ask how other prohibitions have worked. Alcohol? The War On Drugs? And those are consumable. Guns last virtually forever.
So, we are offering a plan. You appear to reject it out of hand and then worry that no one is offering a solution. Let me try again.
1. You can not prevent this. You can only reduce the effects by putting in serious security measures.
2. In the event that an attacker (with a gun or anything else) does make it inside the school, you have two choices on stopping him. 1. Call 911 and ask them to send someone with a gun. That involves waiting anywhere from 5 minutes to two hours (See Virginia Tech), during which time, people are being shot. Or, 2. You can have someone on the scene who has the training and has a firearm stop the attack. (Google "Stopwatch Of Death.") It happens over and over, all over the country, in schools, malls, churches, etc. Trained men and women with guns stop attackers.
That's the solution. It's not standard-capacity magazines. It is not "bad-looking" guns (which is all the modern semi-autos are).
There are many other areas worthy of our time: Hyper-violent video games, "reality" TV shows which glamorize hateful behavior, the use of mind-altering drugs on our young people, etc. The firearms community really can't do anything about that, nor should we. What we can do -- what we are doing -- is working within the framework of our "universe." We teach safe gun handling. We teach young children to avoid guns. We teach safe gun storage and give away tens of millions of gun locks. We give our own money to fund training for teachers who want to provide protection for students without having to throw their bodies in front of bullets.
We are involved on a daily basis. We are doing things. We are there, on the ground, spending money, spending time, getting great results with lower gun crime rates, lower gun accident rates, and constantly working to improve what is already a great track record.
Frankly, it's insulting when you say "I am disappointed that it does not offer any solutions to our national epidemic of mass shootings."
We gun owners do a lot, but what we will not do is accept the blame for criminal actions of others, which is what the gun-ban chorus attempts to force on us.
In the end, we invite you to actually do something rather than wring your hands and wonder aloud "Why isn't anyone doing anything?"
The water's fine. Come on in. ~ Tom
Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear, GunVenture and First Person Defender television series.