Guns don’t kill people? Since when?
Was that a long candy cane the killer was holding when he slaughtered those people in El Paso? Was the Dayton butcher wielding a love wand?
It’s the knee-jerk line promulgated for years by the National Rifle Association: Guns don’t kill people.
After the recent massacres, Donald Trump dispensed a variation of that “volition” slogan, that guns can’t “act” in killings. He said it’s “hatred and mental illness” that pulled that trigger, not the gun. Well . . . yes. But no. Trump, not surprisingly, was distracting from the point – that guns (the use of guns) kill people constantly.
The NRA, pressured by gun manufacturers. trots out the “guns don’t kill” nonsense, and the NRA then dictates to the U.S. Congress. The big money the NRA gives to politicians is most helpful in convincing them to deep-six any gun legislation, come hell or high water. Meantime, mass killings continue. People cry out for gun laws, but as soon as the victims are buried, after the thoughts and prayers drift away, the pressure dissipates. So, oh well, let’s just keep stumbling into the future like amnesiacs. Until the next massacre, and the next and the . . .
The NRA leadership’s propaganda pitch goes like this: Guns should never be restricted because it would do no good. Deranged people will use knives, bombs, vehicles. Background checks won’t work; people intent on murder will find a way around them. The only solution is to have armed guards at places where people gather – malls, churches, schools (arming teachers, too). Remember, folks, as Wayne LaPierre of the NRA once said, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Oh, and not to forget, the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, any kind of arms, all arms. That is a sacred right that must never be infringed upon. If it ever is, “they” will start taking your huntin’ guns away. So says the NRA.
The good news is more Americans are countering the barrage of NRA propaganda. Their counter-arguments go like this:
• Just because gun restrictions won’t prevent all killings doesn’t mean it won’t stop some of them.
• Expanded background checks, as other countries have shown, do in fact stop some potentially dangerous people from purchasing guns.
• To a degree, well-trained armed guards can help prevent some shootings, but “more guns, guns, guns” here, there and everywhere is a recipe for a bloody ricochet of mayhem.
• There is no reason whatsoever to allow civilians to have access to military assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.
• The Second Amendment is not an untouchable right, just as the First Amendment is not absolute. There are restrictions on it (for examples libel, slander, yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.) The Founding Fathers, we can be sure, did not envision military assault-style weapons when they agreed to the “right to bear arms.”
The heartbreaking massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 should haunt and hound the conscience of every American. Assault weapons should have been banned then, but spineless politicians did nothing. Once again, they took their cues from the gun lobby, not from devastated parents.
There was actually a 10-year federal ban on manufacturing semi-automatic firearms for civilian use, but the ban (and its loopholes) expired in 2004 and was not renewed.
But now, after escalating mass killings, many of them perpetrated by hate-filled white supremacists, it’s time. Time to tighten gun restrictions, including a total ban on military assault-style weapons. Even hard-core, pro-gun Republican politicians sense the time is coming for a total ban on assault weapons. The public will demand it. That’s why so many in Congress are caving in on background checks. They are hoping, by giving in on that, the demands for a ban will just go away. It won’t! Please shout out to all legislators and senators: Guns DO kill people. The time to act is now!
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.