Like many Americans, I live in a responsible gun-owning household, and a majority of my friends and peers do, too. Whether it’s for hunting, personal safety or recreation, guns have always been part of American culture. The Second Amendment clearly states “the right of the People to keep and bear arms,” which is an important aspect of a free state.
But even more important than the Second Amendment is the universal, unalienable right to live and breathe — a right that 30,000 citizens are refused each year in the United States because they have senselessly lost their lives to guns. As a country, we CAN and we MUST find the balance between honoring the Second Amendment and making commonsense gun-control measures to prevent gun-related violence.
Despite the fact the majority of our country believes in reasonable gun reform, our leaders continue to cater to someone else. I believe our biggest obstacle in this fight is our current Congress and special-interests groups, specifically the National Rifle Association, that have made it seem impossible for politicians to work together toward a bipartisan solution by painting a polarizing black and white landscape of Good versus Evil, Republican versus Democrat, Wrong versus Right, and Freedom versus Totalitarianism.
This simply isn’t the case, and our country and our government have been duped by this lie for the past 20 years. It’s become an absurd McCarthy era-like fear that the government is trying to “take away our guns,” and everyone should be suspicious and paranoid, when in reality, it’s just another way to control you. Here’s why.
The NRA wasn’t always the dichotomous, power-thirsty organization it is known to be today. In its early days, it was a grassroots social club that prided itself on independence from corporate influence, celebrated responsible and safe gun ownership and recreation, and was a forerunner in gun legislation. Karl T. Frederick, an Olympic gold medalist in sports shooting, served as president of the NRA and vice president of the United State Revolver Association. He was a strong supporter of gun control, and during hearings on the National Firearms Act in 1934 testified: “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. … I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.” In the 1920s and ‘30s, its leaders helped write and lobby for some of the first federal gun-control laws. They proposed things that would never be heard coming from an NRA leader’s mouth in today’s world — like a federal one-day waiting period before receiving a gun and permits to carry a concealed weapon — as both would be considered now “tyrannical”.
Fast forward to today’s NRA and follow the money. The NRA and its allies in the firearms industries have poured nearly $81 million into House, Senate and presidential races since the 2000 election cycle, according to federal disclosures and a Center for Responsive Politics analysis. But where do they get all that money? Today, less than half of the NRA’s revenues come from program fees and membership dues. Instead, the bulk of the group’s money comes in the form of contributions, grants, royalty income and advertising, much of it originating from gun-industry sources.
Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million to it through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. The NRA also made $20.9 million, about 10 percent of its revenue, from selling advertising to industry companies marketing products in its many publications in 2010, according to the IRS Form 990. Additionally, some companies donate portions of sales directly to the NRA or match revenues. With such a strong financial hold on our elections and the staunch support or opposition to candidates, they are making policy by bribing Congress and elected officials and in return, politicians are enslaved to them in order to ensure re-election.
One of the biggest mistakes of our time relating to gun-control legislation was the 1996 enactment of the Dickey Amendment, and its 2011 extension. Named after Arkansas House Rep. and Republican NRA member Jay Dickey, this law brought scientific research on gun violence to a halt. It decreed, “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”
It was later expanded to include the Department of Health and Human Services. They were stripped of their financial backing and no longer able to conduct the nonpartisan research it takes to truly understand how guns and gun control measures affect the safety of our country. But even Dickey had a change of heart and is now a strong proponent of gun-control research. I share his belief that we can find common ground that makes this country safer, while simultaneously honoring the spirit of the Second Amendment. In many interviews and op-eds, he has expressed regret: “If we had somehow gotten the research going, we could have somehow found a solution to the gun violence without there being any restrictions on the Second Amendment. … We could have used that all these years to develop the equivalent of that little small fence.”
What changed Dickey’s mind? In an NPR interview conducted with Mark Rosenberg, president and chief executive of the Task Force for Global Health and previously the director of the National Center For Injury Prevention and Control at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he explains, “I just started watching what was happening in the news. And then all of a sudden, in the middle of that — and I think Mark showed it to me — what the highway industry did. …They had a goal of eliminating head-on collisions in our interstate system. And they never — they didn’t come out and say, we’re going to eliminate the cars. And they spent the time and the money for science and developed these 4-foot barricades that now you can see on the highways between the lanes of the interstate. And the results have been remarkable as far as eliminating head-on collisions. And I thought, well, we could do the same thing. We want science and science investigation and examination to take the place of politics.”
Just like other industries, by studying it and relying on science and facts, we can test gun violence to see what works and what doesn’t; what helps and improves or what makes worse. He stated, “We take a policy. And we test it. So let’s say the policy is we want to make sure that we do background checks and that we have registration of a certain type of weapon, so we know who has them and how they’re using them. Offhand, just by sitting here, I can’t tell you whether that will reduce gun violence and protect the rights of legitimate gun owners. But if you let the government fund a study that covers a large enough number of people over a large enough geographic area over a long enough period, I can tell you — and the science can tell you — if this worked.”
Though Obama reversed the clause on gun research with an executive order after the Sandy Hook shooting and announced he would push for $10 million in the CDC budget for 2014 earmarked for gun research, Congress failed to act. Twice, Obama asked for $10 million in funding in the federal budget for gun-violence research. And twice, the House of Representatives quietly turned down the request. Without money allocated specifically to gun research, federal agencies have not been able to launch funding programs for gun research despite the fact the ban was lifted.
The road to a safer America will be long and tough, but our sense of urgency must be felt now, and it starts with action. With President Obama’s recent executive order announcement, I hope Congress feels a kick in the pants and prompted to put an end to their indifference. Sitting back while innocent people are dying daily by preventable violence will not stand. It’s not what the majority of Americans want.
Guns shouldn’t fall on party lines, and change shouldn’t be held at ransom by powerful lobbyists and corporations. We can both honor the Second Amendment while also making our country a safer place. It’s time for lawmakers to follow their conscience instead of worrying about re-elections. Real change starts with us, so vote, write to your elected officials, and make our voices heard. My hope is we can work together to find common ground and save some lives!
— Cate Battles
15 thoughts on “Letter writer: We can honor Second Amendment and also create commonsense gun-control measures”
Start by eliminating ‘gun free zones’ which kill people …
According to the FBI, there were 8,124 gun related homicides in the USA in 2014 (the most recent year for which we have data). I live in Iowa where we experienced only 27 gun related homicides in 2014. Only 1 of those homicides in Iowa were caused by a rifle. Why does Iowa need more gun control? The answer is we don’t.
They need gun control in Chicago where apparently the south side is full of gangs that like to shoot each other because the only jobs available are drug dealer, pimp, or thug LOL. But of course lefty loonies will claim it’s the white guys who cling to their guns and bibles that are the problem lulz.
If charged with having/using a firearm unlawfully….
No reduced bail, Subject to an automatic dangerousness hearing, No plea bargains, No reduced sentences, No early release from prison, and minimum state sentencing laws for crimes committed with a firearm.
No need for step two.
LOL, when they say reform they don’t tell them that there are 20,000 laws on the books aimed (pun intended) at a right lulz. I love the bogus polls that are somehow precise and scientific when lefty loonies say they are. But when we talk about oh say selling body parts of children with government funding, why polls that say that’s like the Nazi’s and pretty much evil are to be ignored LOL. But I know, PP doesn’t use tax money to abort LOL. Why that money is marked “special use only” and diverted to exams LOL, LOL, LOL. But don’t stand in the way of that “right” that isn’t written anywhere in the Constitution lulz.
LOL, go away lulz. You people have had to lie, lie, and lie to violate the rights of others for years. You want to reduce gun deaths? Obama just released a whole lotta felons that will just cause it to go up LOL. But that’s OK because your targeted group (pun intended) is middle class whites lulz. Not the black and Hispanic gangs that make up a huge part of those bogus figures you toss around LOL. And that people like you want to “help” by using them as pawns during election and then not caring about after lulz.
LOL Anyone that needs a firearm LULZ to protect him/herself is a wuss and a coward. Mega LULZ.
Especially an active/former cop or active/retired military type LOL LULZ. Whatever happened to basing your survival plan off of Rambo and “Red Dawn” movies?
LOL LULZ Haven’t you far right survivalists ever broken a man’s neck with your bare hands like Sly Stallone, Jean Claude VanDamme, Chuck Norris, and every other American hero?
If a baseball bat, knife, automobile or ashtray can kill someone just as easy as a firearm for self defense, then
why do gun owners get so worried about all those pesky stories about gun violence? I carry an ashtray for crazy CCW types who lurk around Planned Parenthood clinics and movie theaters.
Try this- go spit upon those children’s graves from Columbine, Netwon, adults from Charleston, SC, the moron who shot up the Planned Parenthood office for false propaganda about “no more baby parts!”. I’m willing to bet that makes you feel better.
LOL, same old, same old. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me lulz. And my rights aren’t up for compromise lulz.
PS, take a chill pill because your hate is likely to cost me more money after your stroke or heart attack lulz.
A 1,440 word letter?
Actually, your article is a little bit misleading.
Much like the CDC ‘articles’ were a little bit misleading.
The CDC was never dis-funded for researching firearms statistics .. they were dis-funded SPECIFICALLY from using public funds to advance the political goal of “Gun Control”. Their research findings as published tended to emphasize firearms tragedies, while they ignored the empirical facts that firearms were (more than occasionally) used by their owners to protect property, self and family.
As for the NRA, which you portray as some kind of nefarious evil genie … it’s a PAC. You know, the same kind of thing that Democrats contribute to annually almost as a knee-jerk response to please which sound like “STOP THE NRA FROM KILLING OUR CHILDREN!”. (You know the ones, you probably contributed to it one or two times.)
(I think that some Republicans may contribute to PACs too, but I don’t know that Republicans are so EEEVILLLL! that they regularly contribute to a PAC!)
Okay, I’m teasing on that last one.
I agree that extended sentences should be assigned to crimes in which a firearm is involved. There is no excuse for using a gun during the commission of a crime. On the other hand, I object to the statements which suggest that the mere possession of a firearm, when no crime id committed, is ipso facto tantamount to evil intentions. I don’t own guns to kill people. Nobody that I know who owns a gun is a felon, or is a violent person. I, and my friends, own guns for a number of legal reasons: Competition, hunting, or personal defense are among the top three.
I once went on an Antelope hunt in Wyoming with my father. I killed one antelope, which dressed out at less than 80 pounds. I estimated that the meat cost me about $50 a pound, which is a lot more than the best cut of beef I could buy at my butcher store.
But I spent a week with my father .. who was at that time so blind that he couldn’t see an antelope that was 80 yards away from him. The trip was not economically feasible, but I spent some of the most meaningful days of my life in his company, and he never fired a shot.
Your comments make it seem as if there is something intrinsically WRONG with enjoying the shooting sports, and I resent the implications. Nothing personal .. you don’t know, you couldn’t know, what it’s like. Your opinion article doesn’t demean firearms ussd for such respected purposes as “hunting”, but what about the other 11 months of the year?
I own firearms for many other purposes, including self-defense. And it’s difficult to know where you draw the line between “hunting” (which you seem to acknowledge as “legitimate” and … something else.
I’m worried about that “something else” part.
Once you start demonizing firearms, there’s no telling where you or your fellow travelers will go from there. First you don’t like “open carry”, then you don’t like “concealed carry”.
First you don’t like “full automatic” firearms (highly restricted), then you don’t like “semi-automatic” firearms (not usually restricted, but the question is on the table .. and BTW do you realize that this includes double-action revolvers?).
Then you don’t like 30 round magazines, then you don’t like 10-round magazines. And then you don’t like magazines capable of holding more than the six rounds which characterize most revolvers. What about 8-round revolvers, of which there are a few. Would you then demonize that small community of firearms?
You get the picture. You propose that there are some limits to the variety, the capacity, the KIND of firearms which you are willing to acknowledge as “permissible”. But all of those limits are arbitrary, capricious, and without any logical justification.
You know what? I don’t recognize your right to limit MY rights. I know you feel you have “the right to feel safe”, but that’s just you. You don’t have a right to feel safe, because that’s personal and internal and not codified by any logical means.
My right to keep and bear arms is very much the same (except for the Constitution); but my right to feel safe includes the right to keep and bear arms.
So .. while we may agree on the arbitrary penalties for violations of social justice, we probably will not agree on the definition of the 2nd Amendment, and my right to walk into a store with a pistol on my hip.
(If that store has a “NO GUNS” sign on the door … no worries … I won’t be there. But that doesn’t mean that a robber will be dissuaded, so you choose where you will shop.)
Where to even start?
First of all, your 30,000 people who were ‘denied’ their right to live and breathe.
You fail to mention that almost 60% of those were suicides. People who chose to take their own lives, and as research shows would have simply used another method of a gun wasn’t available.
About 80% of the rest were criminals killing other criminals… in gangs… over drugs. If it wasn’t guns it would be knives (as it is in the UK), which have exactly the same mortality rate as handguns.
Secondly, your ‘follow the money’ argument is simply ridiculous. The gun control lobby has billionaires like Michael Bloomberg’s, Paul Allen, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
Bloomberg alone spent almost $500 million creating the “Bloomberg School of Public Health” at Johns Hopkins to provide him with ‘science on demand’ gun control ‘studies’ he can feed his media cronies.
During 2013 the NRA-ILA (the separate lobbying part of the NRA) spent around $4 million, the most it’s ever spent. In just April of 2013 Bloomberg’s lobbying groups spent $15 million.
Bloomberg could pay the entire budget of the NRA for the next 100 years, and he would still be a multi-billionaire at the end.
He could buy every gun made in the USA for the next 3 years, dump them into the sea, and still be a multi-billionaire.
The money isn’t even close.
The NRA is almost 100% funded by member dues and the ads in member magazines. There are 5 million members, but they each only contribute a small amount.
When the NRA donated $200,000 to help defeat a Bloomberg ballot in WA, Bloomberg spent almost $20 million to push it through, all from less than 100 people.
Lastly, you seem to think that gun control is somehow ‘scientific’, when it is exactly the opposite.
You talk about trying things, and if they fail trying something else. However you never mention removing those ‘failed’ laws from the books. In reality, the gun control lobby NEVER takes laws of the books no matter how much evidence there is of their failure.
For example, waiting periods to purchase a gun have never, ever saved so much as a single life according to every study that looked at them. They make no sense since someone who who already has a gun will just use that if they choose, and if they don’t they will simply use another weapon.
On the flip side they are a huge hassle for legal gun owners. You buy a gun, pass the instant background check, then have to come back sometime later to actually pick it up?
in fact every state that implemented them on a ‘what can it hurt’ basis has been forced (by the pro-rights lobby, not the gun control groups) to remove them. And in every case the gun control lobby’s argued for keeping these useless and harassing laws, despite there being no evidence at all that they had any effect.
The Dept. of Justice found that the federal ‘assault weapon’ ban was completely useless and made no difference at all in crime statistics. Yet getting this law re-introduced is still the Holy Grail of the gun control lobby. They just filed “The Assault Weapons Ban of 2015”, and updated version of the 1984 law, in Congress this past December.
And your argument that somehow the CDC was doing ‘research’ when it was defunded for gun control studies is laughable.
The director (Rosenberg) testified that he was planning to present firearms as “dirty, dangerous and BANNED”, before he even initiated a single ‘study’.
This kind of blatant bias in what should have been a scientific organization triggered the law people call a ‘ban’. However nothing is banned at all, the CDC can (and does) gun control studies all the time. The only thing they have to do is make sure they are unbiased. That’s it.
The CDC actually coordinated a great study released in 2013. The gun control lobby hated it because it disproved most of their assertions, but no one had a problem with the science and methodology, and it had no issues being funded.
The exact words of the ‘ban’ are:
“None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”
The CDC is a scientific group, not an advocacy group. They should be looking at gun-related topics in an unbiased manner, not like some political hot-potato.
The author talks about ‘honoring’ the Second Amendment, a word choice I find interesting. Instead I think he should stop ‘honoring’ it, and simply respect it for what it says…. the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
The number one problem with gun control LAWS is that they only affect people who OBEY LAWS. Foe example, If a law against large capacity magazines is passed, I will give up mine because I am a law-abiding citizen, but criminals will not, and I automatically become disadvantaged in the “arms race”.
Likewise, if guns are required to be registered, mine are while the criminals aren’t. Gun registration laws are a means of surveillance, so I am being monitored despite having broken no laws, while a criminal remains under the radar until he commits a crime, possibly ending a life.
I served my country’s armed forces for 9 years and was discharged honorably and with honors. I have never been charged or convicted of a crime other than a rare traffic ticket. Yet I have more to fear from my own government and from my neighbors who want to take away my Constitutional rights and my means of self defense, than the criminals who wish to harm me and take my property. To my mind, that ,makes advocates of gun control conspirators with the criminals.
I don’t want to breathe the same air as right-wing gun nuts, but left -wingers give me no choice. I am more likely to be stabbed in the back by a Liberal Democrat than shot in the face by an NRA member.
LOL, you are a gun nut lulz. Lefty loonies want complete banning of firearms in order to bring about conformity and their global vision lulz. When a government can implement smoking bans under the guise of public health in private establishments yet now press those bans into areas outdoors, it isn’t at all about health but making examples out of smokers in order to eradicate it LOL. Highly illegal and un-Constitutional. So what do you think labeling people who own guns and “nuts” is all about lulz? In lefty loony land it’s all about conformity or casting out lulz.
P.S. When you drive by a bar and it’s empty because everyone is outside smoking, something is seriously screwed up with the people who comply with such drivel. And the same goes now for any person that allows un-Constitutional laws to interfere with their rights.
Drugs don’t kill people, people kill people. Show me a joint that has ever killed someone in Chicago.
When Ronnie Reagan’s govt takes away our drugs, people will find a way to find them. Who needs 3 day waiting periods, registration or a jack booted thug surveillance list for a joint?
When Hitler came to power in Germany, the first thing he did was outlaw pot before he took the guns away.
Cars kill more people than the THC, but why don’t we outlaw cars?
Finally, Big Al, don’t worry about breathing the same air as lefty patriots.
GOP environmental deregulation will guarantee that your grand kids will have to buy clean air from Walmart in order to breathe.
Free market capitalism! wooo hoo! If you can’t pay, you can’t breathe.
Can we as Americans agree on some basic provable concrete facts before claiming anyone is going to take your guns away?
If you can’t say “yes I agree” to all the stated facts, then I’m really wondering what planet you might be living on. I’m also weary of paranoid types who kiss their guns goodnight every night before their wife/girlfriend/whatever you call your sweety.
1- American as a country has more legally owned guns than any other country on Earth.
2- America as a country also has the highest rate of gun violence on Earth.
3-The words ‘well regulated militia’ appear in the 2nd Amendment, as in to regulate, like a regulating device does for scuba diving does. It regulates the amount of oxygen that flows into your lungs so you don’t die underwater.
4- Never in the history of firearms have they been used as a defensive measure. As a ballistic weapon, they are categorized as an offensive weapon, as in the operator of said device takes the fight to his opponent, It is physically impossible for a bullet to defend you, unless you are small enough to hide behind one. Defensive weapons include armor, shields, barricades, naval and aircraft countermeasures, etc. Ballistic weapons include firearms, arrows, spears, missiles, rockets, etc.
A cop in my neighborhood growing up once asked me to play ‘what if’.
He asked ‘What if someone with a gun started shooting people in a public place, and a CCW type drew on him, shot, missed, hit another innocent bystander whose husband/wife happened to be carrying? When said second shooter returns fire and doesn’t hit his/her target with 100% accuracy and happens to wound another innocent victim, guess who the cops are going to gun down when they arrive on the crime scene?’ His answer? Anyone with a guns stupid enough to draw and fire without the skills to hit a target 100% of the time.
Now picture your wife, husband, son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father, or even dog dead for a legal gun owner wanting to play Dirty Harry and missing their target. Now tell me a safety class and mandatory time on a range practicing is some sort of governmental over reach.
Now picture yourself saying ‘Hey no problem man, I realize you’re a good guy and were just trying to help. Don’t worry about any collateral damages- woo hoo 2nd Amendment!’