I am not anti-gun. I want well-armed police and military and have no problem with responsible private gun ownership.
I do not, however, believe that America is so dangerous that we need personal arsenals and should carry guns everywhere we go. In fact, with more people packing heat, our danger increases.
The gun lobby and their politician thralls use misinformation and tortured logic to sell the idea that guns make us safe. “Sell” is key here because profit is their motivation, using their version of the 2nd Amendment as a clever marketing tool.
Consider the twist away from the original intent of the 2nd Amendment, the right for citizens to bear arms in order to maintain a well-regulated militia. Before the days of an institutionalized military, this was how our founders provided for the common defense.
Constitutional revisionism is artfully marketed on the facade of the National Rifle Association’s headquarters. They omitted the first part of the amendment and engraved only, “…the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.” You can sell more weapons by not limiting your market only to those willing to join a well-regulated militia.
Other propaganda has helped swell the gun market. We are told that America is dangerous and that guns make us safer. Despite proclamations by ill-informed politicians and the gory sensationalism of 24-hour TV, violent crime has actually fallen. There has been an increase in some metropolitan areas during the past two years, but violent crime rates are still lower than a decade ago (FBI Uniform Crime Reporting).
Some argue that violent crime is down because people have guns for protection. Flaws in this logic are reflected in states like Missouri where gun violence has increased since we started weakening gun laws in 2007.
If more guns and looser laws improve safety, why does the FBI list both St. Louis and Kansas City in the top ten most lethal cities over the past five years, outranking Chicago, Baltimore and other places we think of as more dangerous?
Why do studies show that every act of self-defense is far outranked by assaults, suicides, and accidents by “good guys with guns” (Harvard Political Review, August 2016)?
We have been misled about guns keeping us safer at home. Lethality during a home invasion is essentially zero (The Week, 11/6/2015), but Missouri expanded the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground last year. In reality, guns at home make us less safe. Two-thirds of last year’s gun deaths were suicides, and it’s alarmingly common to hear about children doing tragic harm with unsecured guns.
Missouri now allows anyone 19 or older to carry a concealed gun without training or permit. How illogical to require training, licensing, and insurance for other potentially dangerous practices (for example, piloting a plane, performing surgery, driving a car) while denying the need for gun-toters to be trained, licensed, or insured. This is special nonsense now that gun deaths equal motor vehicles deaths in the U.S.
In spite of facts, politicians clamor for even looser restrictions. Representative Taylor (R-Nixa) wants guns on college campuses. Representative Marshall (R-Parkville) chafes against prohibition of concealed carry by visitors to our State Capitol. Representative Moon (R-Ash Grove) proposes additional liability for business owners who prohibit guns on their premises.
Congress is considering a federal concealed carry reciprocity which would require all states to condone the rules of the least restrictive state. They are also considering lifting the ban on the sale of silencers. Meanwhile, proposals such as requiring gun owners to carry insurance, report stolen guns, transfer guns only through licensed dealers are met with strong resistance.
As I stated to begin, I am not against guns. I am against the profit-motivated propaganda and illogical thinking that have led Missouri to have some of the poorest gun safety laws in the nation. I object to the NRA holding our elected officials hostage. Looser gun laws do not enhance our common defense, but they do increase the profits of the gun market. Until our elected officials agree to examine facts and apply logic, we will remain duped by the gun lobby and will become increasingly less safe.
Sherry Buchanan is the Vice Chair of Southwest Missouri Democrats and a contributor for “Another Point of View” in the Neosho Daily News.