My wife and I are still reeling from the Lewiston shooting. Although we live 40 minutes away, our sense of peace, safety and perception of what it means to live in Maine has been damaged by this dreadful event.
Sadly, it was inevitable. After all, there have already been many “Lewistons” all over America; small, seemingly safe towns that gun violence changed forever. The underlying reason for this is that we are being held hostage by a well-funded extremist minority.
According to the Brady Group, every day eight children are unintentionally shot in America by “family fire.” This data point is just one among an avalanche of dark statistics about gun deaths and the trauma they inflict on Americans. But you’ve already heard them.
I want to talk about why we live this way.
The sober truth is that Americans could significantly reduce gun violence if they chose to; and, according to a May CNN poll, 64% of Americans would like to have stricter gun laws. Gun violence is not an act of God or an environmental force like hurricanes. The ongoing gun carnage is the result of two things: money and minority rule.
The NRA and gun manufacturers pour millions of dollars into political action committees who fund politicians around the U.S. in every election.
According to Open Secret, on average House Republicans received $2,100 each in 2022. Democrats took no gun money. Republican senators received $4,800 and Democrats nothing. Not all the Republican politicians take gun money, but most do. Sen. Susan Collins took $19,683, according to Newsweek. The Brady Group reported in 2019 that 16 sitting Republican senators had received more than $1 million each from the NRA.
In addition to PAC donations and direct contributions, pro-gun advocates blanket the air waves with constant defenses of gun ownership to influence public opinion in their favor. They make the following arguments: Citizens need guns to protect themselves, gun control does not work, people with mental health problems are the real problem, and guns are protected under the 2nd Amendment.
These arguments may appear firm on their surface but they are completely fallacious.
This right-wing media effort to persuade hearts and minds is no different from past corporate campaigns. Remember when the tobacco industry tried to persuade Americans smoking was safe? They knew full well cigarettes caused cancer; but hey, it was just too profitable for them.
I recommend you read Brian Klaas’s Dec. 12, 2022 article, “It’s the Guns,“ on Substack. He systematically debunks the various pro-gun arguments using FBI data. He reveals that many pro-gun arguments are deliberate distortions or misinterpretations of existing gun data. They are not innocent misunderstandings but deliberate disinformation campaigns.
Pro-gun people are clearly motivated by money to reject the factual reality that has been long known by criminologists who, through innumerable regression analyses, have shown that the profusion of gun violence is in direct proportion to the profusion of unregulated guns.
In America, there are more guns than people – thus massive gun violence. We have 12 gun deaths per 100,000 vs. other Western industrialized countries, which average 2.
In Nick Kristoff’s 2017 New York Times op-ed, “How to Reduce Shootings,” Kristoff displays a graph from the Violence Policy Center indicating that states with high gun ownership (like Maine) also have the highest incidence of gun violence, usually over 10.5 per 100,000 people.
In another graph from the Giffords Law Center, he shows that the majority of those states are Southern, low-population, and right-leaning. Contrary to recent Republican sound bites, big American cities such as New York and Los Angeles are statistically safer. You are far more likely to be murdered with a gun in a Southern red state than a Northern blue state. Northern states with gun control are safer. This is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of fact.