Hi. Long time, no write. (Yeah, that's my entire segue...)
Anybody out there still angry about the massacre of first-graders in Connecticut? Because I am. I have left "shocked", "stunned", "devastated", "heart-broken" and "appalled" behind. I'm pissed - and hoping to stay that way long enough to try doing something that will help to satisfy my conscience, if not actually prevent another tragedy.
Before I get too far along in my rant, I feel I should offer a disclaimer - in the interest of not wasting the reader's time. In the next paragraph (or two), I'm going to start talking about how to try and prevent people from getting guns. Not a speculation on whether or not that's the right way to prevent slaughters like the one that occurred in Newtown; not a discussion of what the Second Amendment means to me; not soul-searching on whether people, guns or bullets are most to blame for mass murder. I'm way beyond that - so if you're not interested in some thoughts on how to get serious about restricting access to firearms, you should click the mouse and move on. In any case, I wouldn't expect to change the minds of individuals who believe that they have a right to bear arms which must not be infringed.
But let me speculate boldly for a moment - that there are some who would agree that rational restrictions could be placed on the manufacture and sale of firearms. That those restrictions need not prevent access to guns for persons who use them for sport or hunting. That a person can protect him or herself without an automatic weapon. Have these become radical ideas? Listening to the political debate regarding gun control (fade up the chirping crickets), you would think so. Now, why is that?
Oh, I remember - the National Rifle Association. An organization with the money and influence to essentially prevent any real govenmental "interference" with weapons manufacture and sale. An organization which (since 2005) has received 74% of its corporate donations from the firearms industry, totaling somewhere between $14.7 and $38.9 million (per the non-profit Violence Policy Center).
Why can't gun control organizations like the Brady Campaign compete? Well, how many corporate sponsors do you think they have? I know its shocking that the knife, axe and slingshot manufacturers haven't anted up in the hope that stricter gun laws might have the populace swarming to their life-threatening alternatives - but I think the situation speaks for itself. There is clearly more cash to be generated in scaring people and manufacturing weapons, than there is in trying to convince people that they could do without automatic weaponry.
You're shocked - I can tell. But maybe the question we should really be asking ourselves is this: How can I help give gun control advocates the funding they need to compete with the NRA - and show my representatives in the Congress and Senate that the pro-gun lobby isn't the only side with political clout?
My answer: Take the amount of money some people are spending on guns ($200-2000) and give it to an organization or politician that is dedicated to passing stricter gun laws.
To be most effective, that money should be channeled to a single gun control organization so they can go toe-to-toe with the NRA - and win. But to move beyond anger and get something done, the people who want to see the sale of automatic weapons banned are going to need to spend some money - because you KNOW the people who want to buy those weapons are going to lay their money down.
Now I have to figure out who can make the most of my anti-gun dollars. Once I do, you will be the first to know.