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Gun Fundamentalism Plagues America

By Parthiv N. Parekh Email By Parthiv N. Parekh
January 2013
Gun Fundamentalism Plagues America

The Arab world has jihadi fundamentalists. We, in America, have gun fundamentalists.

Steeped in their convictions, and willing to die for it, the jihadis are indifferent about the damage they are causing to the image and spirit of Islam. American gun fundamentalists are just as indifferent to the damage they are causing to the image of America and its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Only a degree of fundamentalism explains a complete breakdown in logic, perception and common sense that is evident in the mindless opposition to any checks and balances on gun sales and ownership. The failure to see the connection between easy access to guns, including assault rifles, and the prolific number of gun fatalities is a blind spot that only fanaticism can allow.

What could be simpler? It doesn’t need research, experts, data or studies to see a simple truth that guns will kill far more in an uncontrolled environment than in a well-regulated one.

And yet the cultural and recreational worship of firearms, a dubious fallback on the Second Amendment and a disproportionately strong NRA that holds society hostage to its agenda have made sane gun regulation a convoluted debate.

Following are some of the mindless slogans and disingenuous strategies used by gun fundamentalists in their attempts to cloud an otherwise straightforward issue.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people
True. Similarly, hammers and drills don’t build houses, people do. Yet, we don’t see crews coming to a construction site without their tools. Can you imagine a construction supervisor lecturing a worker who comes looking for a tool: “Come on, man, what’s the matter with you, don’t you know tools don’t build houses, people do! Now go out there and put your hands to good use!”

Absurd, right? But that’s what gun fanatics want us to believe about guns. It’s not that I am blind to the point they are trying to sell: in a perfect society where there is no culture of violence, even an abundance of guns would do little harm. But that is a huge hypothesis that is starkly at odds with our reality. The fact is, violence and mental illness are a part of our society, and guns are the enablers for those afflicted with either.

If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns
Another version of this clever-sounding but superficial sound byte is the claim that we don’t need new laws, because we can’t or won’t enforce existing ones. By that argument, if we can’t enforce speeding on our highways, should we simply remove all speed limits? And if we can’t enforce murder laws due to technicalities or a shortage of manpower or resources, should we simply make murder legal?

The NRA has done its best to prevent sane legislation from passing, then claimed that gun laws don’t work.

If gun laws aren’t working, there are two possible responses available: Fix, invest, strengthen and find ways to make them work; or, the NRA approach: Give up on regulating a lethal weapon that routinely kills a huge number of innocent people.

Using misleading statistics, studies, reports, and data
Columnist Thomas Sowell points out that gun ownership is higher in rural areas compared to urban ones and among whites than blacks, yet the murder rate is lower in rural areas and in white communities compared to urban areas and black communities. Does that mean communities should increase gun ownership to reduce gun deaths? Hardly. If anything, the scenarios described above only point to the fact that urban and black communities are more prone to violence than rural white ones. And so, there is more reason, not less, to strengthen the regulation and enforcement surrounding the purchase and ownership of firearms in these communities.

NRA sympathizers love to cherry-pick examples of situations where an armed civilian may have foiled the plans of an armed perpetrator and in the process even saved a life or two. But for every such incident, there are many more where the bad guys have won.

A clear indication of the fundamentalism surrounding guns is that laws that would thwart criminals and the mentally unstable, and do nothing to restrict the legal use of firearms, are robotically opposed.

Prayers and talk of healing have been abundant in response to Sandy Hook, our latest in a long line of national tragedies inflicted by guns. But there can’t be much healing or a sense of safety if we are not prepared to do something to counter the gun fundamentalism that plagues our society.

 

Modified version published January 4, 2013.

 


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