The American political discussion of guns is ruled by three lies. We must forcefully reject these lies and build a new consensus around the truth.
The first lie is that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” No, guns kill people and semi-automatic weapons kill a lot of people quickly. An AR-15 is a despicably effective tool designed to do one thing: kill scores of people in minutes. Such weapons have no legitimate place in civil society. Access to these weapons and others like them should be banned.
The second lie is that “this is a problem of mental illness.” Trump and the NRA claim that guns don’t kill people, crazy people kill people. Mental illness is a red herring in this discussion. Every society on earth has its share of individuals with mental illness and evidence shows that those with mental illness are no more prone to violence than anyone else. In fact they are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Only the United States allows easy civilian access to guns and weapons of war. There are strong public policy approaches that can keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and anyone else with murderous intentions. Republicans oppose all of them. Yet just last year, Republican majorities in Congress and President Trump passed legislation making it easier for mentally ill individuals to buy guns.
The third lie is that there is nothing we can do to stop this carnage because the NRA is too powerful. There’s only one response: “We call BS”, in the memorable words of Emma Gonzalez, Parkland survivor. For years, polling has shown that the vast majority of Americans favor sensible gun control. Even a majority of NRA members favor various forms of gun control. We won’t change anything in Congress until we use electoral power to defeat the NRA blood money that supports Republican candidates. This means only supporting candidates who are willing to pass the legislation necessary to control gun ownership.
Here’s a basic legislative program we support:
- Ban all semi-automatic weapons. There are no legal or constitutional reasons for anyone to own military grade weapons.
- Establish a basic licensing and regulatory scheme for ALL hand guns. The Constitution requires that the right to bear arms be “well regulated”. It is time to regulate guns in the same way we regulate cars and dentists.
- Institute a buyback program to remove as many guns from American households as possible in order to “starve” the gun black market.
- Provide funding to all schools to hire the counselors and social workers who can meet the behavioral and mental needs of students and to support training teachers to create inclusive, “bully proof” classrooms which reduce all forms of school violence.
Call To Action
- Call your members of Congress and let them know that they must act to stop gun violence.
- Flood the White House with messages of your disapproval of Trump’s blind support of the NRA and resistance to meaningful gun control.
- Press all candidates for their positions on gun control in the coming elections – caucuses, primaries and November 6th. Get out and vote to end the NRA’s stranglehold on US politics.
- Join the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who have called for political action “in every city” and every school in the country to demand meaningful gun control. We will be in the streets with them. See you there.