Tuesday, another horrific mass shooting took place in an American school. As of this writing, officially 21 people, including 19 children, were senselessly murdered by someone carrying monstrous weapons of death.
Just before Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, Warriors Coach Steve Kerr went to his pre-game press conference and made it clear that his evening was going to have little to do with basketball.
Steve Kerr Is All Of Us
Just a warning. I'm going to be candid, honest, and opinionated. This topic is heavy so I won't blame anyone for clicking away. With that in mind...Kerr is absolutely right.
We are nearing a decade since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. I remember it well because it was my birthday. That day, 20 children and six adults were brutally murdered. When that event sparked absolutely zero change, it became clear that the United States of America was broken. The US demonstrated that day that it valued guns, gun owners, and gun manufacturers more than it valued the lives of our children. It was commendable of Coach Kerr to ignore the big playoff game he was about to coach to use his platform for what was necessary.
People with children like myself spent hours unable to sleep last night trying to empathize with strangers who were having the worst day any parent could ever have. We wondered if our kids were going to come home safe from school today. We paused longer as we made our kid's lunches, made sure they were dressed, and had their homework done. As my wife and daughter went to the bus stop this morning, I couldn't help but ask myself, "Is this the life we have given to our children?" Is spending time at school doing active shooter drills something my daughter should have to do and understand? After these thoughts, we look for someone to blame. There's plenty to go around.
The NRA Is An Unrelenting Problem
The NRA wasn't always what it is today. In 1975, the NRA began attempting to influence policy directly via a newly formed lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action. In 1977 it formed its own Political Action Committee (PAC), to channel funds to legislators. The NRA is now one of the biggest political contributors that exist. The numbers I am going to share come from here. Senator Ted Cruz is still set to speak at the NRA convention this weekend in Houston, located in the same state as Uvalde, where Tuesday's mass shooting took place. Cruz has received over $175 thousand in NRA money during his political career, and as much as $300,000 from gun lobbyists during his last senate campaign. Mitt Romney, everyone's favorite supposed "level-headed" conservative, has received over $13 million from the NRA.
The NRA officially spends about $3 million per year to influence gun policy. The recorded amount spent on lobbying in 2014 was $3.3 million. That is only the recorded contributions to lawmakers, though, and even more money is spent elsewhere via PACs and independent contributions.
In 1996, the NRA successfully lobbied congress to put this in the CDC's budget. "None of the funds made available may be used to advocate or promote gun control." This was called the Dickey amendment. In the 25-plus years since the Dickey Amendment, this type of influence and control from the NRA has only gotten stronger. CDC Gun violence funding has gone down 96% since 1996. In this way, one can argue that the NRA actively supports domestic terrorism.
The Second Amendment
This truth has been told a thousand times, by a thousand people, in a thousand different ways, but I am going to say it again. The second amendment was created at a time when a firearm was a slow-loading musket. The original framers of the constitution (slave owners and by definition, white supremacists) could not have conceived of 30-shot magazines loaded into automatic weapons. The constitution has been interpreted to evolve with the change in society in every other way, so to give the second amendment an exception to this is an act of lunacy, ignorance, or malice. If my words don't seem to hold enough weight, what about the words of former Supreme Court Justice, Warren Burger?
"The Gun Lobby's interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies—the militia—would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.
This is what every gun control advocate has known since they could conceptualize this basic thought. Every other argument for people having unfettered access to guns boils down to liking guns. We are a gun-obsessed culture. For what reason? It hasn't done us any good, all it has done is make people die. No other civilized nation has as many gun deaths combined as the US does in one year. The Port Arthur massacre of 1996 in Australia led Australia to gun reforms only 12 days later. 12 days. We have mass shooting after mass shooting in the United States and we haven't done a damn thing about any of them. Guns removed=mass shootings removed. It is that simple.
This notion also negates the preposterous "mental health" excuse that gun advocates use every time this type of tragic event occurs. Every country in the world has a population with mental health problems. This is just the human condition. Only the United States has such open gun laws. If we want to tackle mental health in this country, that's a great notion. Let's solve the simpler problem first; too many guns. What isn't true is that only mental health problems are the cause of so many gun deaths. It's a lazy argument asserted by gun advocates.
My Last Thoughts
Too many of our children are dying. Outside of the school shootings, too many of our family members, friends, and strangers are dying from gun violence. If your natural response is to argue that outlawing guns won't stop criminals from obtaining them, I again point you to the facts about the rest of the world's success when outlawing weapons. If we're going to start slowly—Coach Kerr and everyone else begging our Senators to vote on stricter gun laws. It will only happen through our actions. Our politicians have proven to us that they don't care enough about it on morality alone.