The NRA Has America Living Under the Gun

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You might think Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of and spokesman for the mighty American gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, has an almost cosmic sense of timing. In 2007, at the NRA’s annual convention in St. Louis, he warned the crowd that, “Today, there is not one firearm owner whose freedom is secure.” Two days later, a young man opened fire on the campus of Virginia Tech, killing 32 students, staff and teachers.

Just last week, LaPierre showed up at the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty here in New York and spoke out against what he called “anti-freedom policies that disregard American citizens’ right to self-defense.” Now at least 12 are dead in Aurora, Colorado, gunned down at a showing of the new film, The Dark Knight Rises, a Batman movie filled with make-believe violence. One of the guns the shooter used was an AK-47 type assault weapon that was banned in 1994. The ban ran out in 2004.

Obviously, LaPierre’s timing isn’t cosmic, just coincidental and unfortunate; as Shakespeare famously wrote, the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves. In other words, people — people with guns. There are some 300 million guns in the United States, one in four adult Americans owns at least one and most of them are men. According to the British newspaper The Guardian, over the last 30 years, “the number of states with a law that automatically approves licenses to carry concealed weapons provided an applicant clears a criminal background check has risen from eight to 38.”

Every year there are 30,000 gun deaths and 300,000 gun-related assaults in the U.S. Firearm violence costs our country as much as $100 billion a year. Toys are regulated with greater care and safety concerns than guns.

So why do we always act so surprised? Violence is our alter ego, wired into our Stone Age brains, so intrinsic its toxic eruptions no longer shock, except momentarily when we hear of a mass shooting like this latest in Colorado. But this, too, will pass as the nation of the short attention span quickly finds the next thing to divert us from the hard realities of America in 2012.

We are a country which began with the forced subjugation into slavery of millions of Africans and the reliance on arms against Native Americans for its westward expansion. In truth, more settlers traveling the Oregon Trail died from accidental, self-inflicted gunshots wounds than Indian attacks -– we were not only bloodthirsty but also inept.

Nonetheless, we have become so gun loving, so gun crazy, so blasé about home-grown violence that far more Americans have been casualties of domestic gunfire than have died in all our wars combined. In Arizona last year, just days after the Gabby Giffords shooting, sales of the weapon used in the slaughter -– a 9 millimeter Glock semi-automatic pistol – doubled.
We are fooling ourselves. Fooling ourselves that the law could allow even an inflamed lunatic to easily acquire murderous weapons and not expect murderous consequences. Fooling ourselves that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of a “well-regulated militia” be construed as a God-given right to purchase and own just about any weapon of destruction you like, a license for murder and mayhem. A great fraud has entered our history.

Maybe you remember this video. In it, Adam Gadahn, an American born member of al Qaeda, the first U.S. citizen charged with treason since 1952, urges terrorists to carry out attacks on the United States. Right before your eyes he says, “America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check, and most likely, without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”

The gunman in Colorado waited only for his opportunity. So there you have it -– the arsenal of democracy has been transformed into the arsenal of death and the NRA? The NRA is the enabler of death — paranoid, delusional and as venomous as a scorpion. With the weak-kneed acquiescence of our politicians, the National Rifle Association has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel and deadly hoax.

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  • Jhthurman

    Typical liberal rhetoric blaming the inanimate object instead of the homicidal idiot using it. Look at history…every murderous dictator (Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, etc.) banned private ownrship of firearms before committing atrocities on their own people. Given our own government’s record of squashing citizens’ right, the only thing keeping us free of a total dictatorship is the Second Amendment. Once that’s gone, you can kiss your freedom goodbye.

  • JonThomas

     Typical right wing…ah forget it…you’ll just get upset.

    You don’t leave your gun cabinet unlocked around children who are not responsible enough to have access to weapons… do you?

    Then, why do so many want to allow such easy, unfettered access by unbalance, individuals who may also not be responsible enough to have access to those deadly inanimate objects.

    Restrictions make sense. Even gun owners themselves use restrictions against people (children) having access!!

  • Route K-9

     We are the only country that arms its psychopaths. Choke on that NRA!

  • yellowhair3

    You know I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had some one with concealed carry permit had of turned their Glock 40 on this nut. I’m sure there woud have still been casualties but not as many . I’m afarid that we have only seen the tip of the iceberg on the violence. I pray that my government does not deny me the right to  selfprotection.

  • SherBer

    I read that the shooter in Colorado had a semi-automatic assault weapon that could fire 50 to 60 rounds a minute; however, the assault rifle jammed and he switched to a less powerful gun.  Think of how many more would be dead (it’s hard to even think of it) had the automatic assault rifle hadn’t jammed!   What do those of you gun toting people think of that?  Is it just another event that is going to go away until the next kook comes along and does it again?

  • Karenesn

    Banning is not the answer, but surely we can all agree with a few regulations.  I’m a hospice home health nurse, and I cringe when an elderly patient shows off their fully loaded pistol in front of me.   It’s for self-defense of course; no problem.  But as one ages, coordination, balance, and reflexes slow down; a fact.  Not to mention that many prescription drugs can have an impact on one’s mental status as we age….including blood pressure pills.  You don’t have to be a psychopath to unintentionally harm someone.

  • Fussy

    JonThomas, you cannot restrict the 2nd amendment, read it and realize any restriction is against the very nature of the amendment itself.  “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  Do you see ANYWHERE in that statement a provision that allows limitations by government or well meaning safety conscious people?  If you do please point it out to me?  By the way, they also had large caliber weapons and cannons during the writing but didn’t mention limiting them either did they so no, you aren’t allowed to limit the size of the arm either.  You can wish and rationalize and listen to ass-hats like Moyers all you want, but the amendment cannot be restricted.

  • JonThomas

     I’m never surprised when, even if those who find themselves coming from a right wing perspective make decent points, they too often show their true colors with offense insults.

    I’ll wait to see if the moderator acts before I waste my time commenting.

  • melinda

    Please, Bill Moyers, don’t ever retire! America needs your voice, the work that you do for us all. My husband and I, among countless others, look to you to for truth when so much of what surrounds us is devoid of it. Thank you and keep strong and well so you can continue your important work for us all.

  • OHGrrl55

     It is just as likely there could have been MORE deaths had someone with a concealed carry opened fire. In that kind of chaotic situation, what if someone ELSE with a concealed carry license shot the OTHER person with a concealed carry weapon? I see the point you are trying to make, but I don’t think you (and others who make this same point) follow it through to its many scenarios. You are assuming such a person would know who who to shoots, AND would have the ability to make a clean shot without shooting anyone else.

  • Raul Valencia

    The difference between the guy with a concealed license and the individual shooting at everyone else is one has a plan and came prepared. Because of that I highly doubt any one carrying their 40 with them that night could have done anything. Very unfortunate situation.

  • tigerweeds

    Funny, I carried a gun for 28 years nearly everyday, I own 3 of them…not one time have any of those guns ever shot anyone? Gee, wondering why that hasn’t happened? Bill, when an evil doer crawls through your window at 3am  in that gated community you live in are you gonna want a guy with a gun to show up, or one with some sweet liberal taliking points? Thats what I thought!

  • jc

     The government has an obligation to protect its citizens. When people begin using weapons for the sport of  hunting and killing other people, shouldn’t we be asking why? As God fearing people have we no shame; have we no respect for the common good? Do people hear other peoples crys anymore or are we all so callous and self centered that there is not some shared humanity and a common purpose to stop the killing of innocense.

  • lgfromillinois

    Most recent polls show Americans favorable to reasonable gund restrictions.  It’s time we treat a NRA endorsement has a reason to vote againest that endorsee.

  • Avocadoish

    Twenty-eight years and you never needed to use your gun. Hmmm. Interesting. Seems like a pretty unnecessary thing to have then.

    I do agree on one point. I’d definitely want a guy with a gun to show up…wearing a uniform, a badge and with backup.

  • Azaero

    Another election year is upon us and everyone knows that it would be political suicide for either of the candidates to discuss gun control in this country during an election year. I’m sure that the families of the victims in Colorado would agree, that politics should take precidence over such a contentions issue. After all, it’s hard enough to campaigne for the vote without also having to contend with powerful lobbies as well. If the candidates could just dodge the question of gun control altogether, it would make the already difficult job of elections easier.

    Obama should focus on being re-elected and if he is elected, he could then focus on gun control since he would not be concerned about another term in office. He did promise to address it during his first term in office, but who could blame him, what with the economy and all. Wait four years and hope that nothing else happens. Oops.

    Romney doesn’t have this luxury if he is elected because he would want two terms in office too. And why shouldn’t he. So we the people should be willing to wait until he is no longer electable before we can expect the problem to be addressed.

    I’m sure the the families of the victims understand all of this and understand that this political maneuvering is all about the protection of our civil rights. Politicians of course, have the best interests of all in mind, ahead of their personal agendas.

    As citizenss, our problem is that we need to be more tolerant of the rights of individuals to bear arms, to stockpile amunitions, to purchase weapons of mass destruction under our first amendment and if we do not fully understand this, then there are very powerful, very wealthy lobbies that are willing to go to great lengths to remind us of it. Guns don’t kill, people kill. Isn’t that the rational?

    So now that you’ve read all this drivel, when are we going to demand the congress act in our behalf instead of on their own behalf? When are we going to demand that common sense laws should be placed ahead of the concerns of wealthy corporations and lobbiests? And when are our elected officials going to get a backbone, and finally represent us rather than cower in fear of their own electability? I am truly sickened by it all.

  • Common man

    A great thing about the US is I can own a firearm for 28 years, AND never have to use it in self defense. I don’t live in fear as a US citizen, not because I own a firearm, well lots of firearms, its because men and women dedicate themselves to higher callings. Law enforcement, fire fighters, and military members, just to name a few. If someone is in my house, I call 911, and I might be prepared to use a firearm as a defensive measure only until the police arrive. I use my firearms for hunting, target shooting, and for showing my children how to respect and handle a firearm. Ignorance about firearms is what makes firearms dangerous. Harsher gun regulations only hurt responsible gun owners. You’re going to have to trust me on this, but if someone wants to shoot up a theatre full of people with a gun, I doubt they’re going to follow the law on getting one. The statement about more people have died from handguns than all wars combined?? Go double check your research on that please. But if that is true, which I am doubtful of, here’s a thought: The military trains their members on how to properly use firearms, then they give them weapons specifically designed to KILL PEOPLE (unlike a lot of civilian firearms, which are designed for multiple things, like target shooting, deer hunting, bird hunting, trap, skeet, etc.) and they still kill less than an untrained society mostly with firearms designed to do other things besides kill people. So maybe instead of taking guns away from citizens (fat chance), we should lobby for more gun education??? Heck we pass out condoms in schools, why not teach a classroom or two where the heck the safety is on firearms so they don’t accidentally blow heads off??

  • Anonymous

    I too am truly sickened by it all. But please don’t give up hope, Azaero. We need this if we are to make our society one that we want to live in. In a sense, I am glad we are sickened by it. If we were not, there would truly be no hope for positive change.

  • Reading Comprehension

    As the shooter had body armor, and was shooting FROM INSIDE A CLOUD OF TEAR GAS, unless your theoretical armed movie goer also had a gas mask, they probably would have shot someone other than the shooter.

  • John

    Is it not against the Constitution to posess a firearm if you are not part of a well regulated militia? Why not attempt to make gun possession illegal by calling it unconstitutional. Force anamendment to make gun possession legal.

  • Shelly

    Thanks for being vocal Maybe we can have GUN CONTROL

  • Roy

    If gun control works so well, why do cities like Washington DC, New York and Chicago — all with tough gun control laws — have such high crime rates?

  • Yevgeni

    The Supreme Court ruled that gun ownership is an INDIVIDUAL right in McDonald v. City of Chicago.

  • Richard Channing

    “In truth, more settlers traveling the Oregon Trail died from accidental, self-inflicted gunshots wounds than Indian attacks -– we were not only bloodthirsty but also inept.”
    I really, really do need a citation for this.

  • Richard Channing

    I believe these guys with uniforms and badges show up just to clean up the mess, like a janitor, not before the crime has been committed.

  • Richard Channing

    “In truth, more settlers traveling the Oregon Trail died from accidental, self-inflicted gunshots wounds than Indian attacks -– we were not only bloodthirsty but also inept.”
    I really, really need a citation for this statement. Thanks in advance.

  • Richard Channing

    I believe the guys with uniforms and badges show up to clean up the mess, like a janitor, rather than showing up before the crime has already been committed.

  • ChristopherBSD

    Virginia Tech and the theater in Aurora Colorado were both GUN FREE ZONES – isn’t it extremely likely that the shooters KNEW THAT? If criminals know that nobody will be shooting back at them, isn’t it likely that GUN FREE ZONE encourage these tragedies?

    When you take guns away from citizens, the criminals still get guns in the black market – the sheep get slaughtered. When law abiding citizens are armed, the criminals are deterred.

    And of course neither of those shooters were NRA members – neither of those shooters were concealed carry permit holders.

  • Old Gopher


  • Josh

    Please provide your sources and the where you have used them in this article as any responsible write should

  • msmolly

    So. Mr. Moyers, it is well and good to rail against guns, and I agree with every word. BUT, what are we to do about it?

  • Barry Bainton

    There should be no question about the right of the Federal government to limit the types of weapons that a citizen can legally buy and own. The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free
    state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be

    In District of Columbia v. Heller,
    554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Supreme Court ruled that “an individual’s right to possess a firearm was unconnected to service in a
    militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as hunting, self-defense within the home.” However, the Court did not nor does does not proscribe what those weapons are or can be.

    Since the power to legislate laws rests with Congress, why doesn’t the Congress distinguish between the traditional, lawful purposes and the type of weapons that fall under that construction and outlawing those weapons for civilians, which fall outside those uses? Why not legislate the limits of the rights as it has in the case of the other amendments. Aside from the recent killings in Arizona, Colorado and Wisconsin, the Firearms and Injury Center at the University of Pennsylvania (2009) states in its Annual Firearm Mortality – U.S., 1980-2006, “In the last twenty-four years, an average of 32,300 Americans died each year from firearm injuries.” ( ) Congress would respond if this were Firestone Tire or Ford Motor Company whose products caused such harm. There would an outcry for a product recall and regulation to prevent future accidents and deaths. The NRA leadership bullies their members. the Congress, and the public into thinking any home without its own Predator drone is a home undefended.

  • Mac

    We’ve heard that one before and most likely without gun control it would have been far worse.

  • Keith LeBrun

    I don’t think that’s true at all. With or without gun control laws, the statistics would likely be the same IMO. Outlaws aren’t limited to legal channels to obtain weapons, and so the only people truly impacted by tougher controls are those who have no illegal motives for owning one.

    We should enforce the laws we already have.

  • Keith LeBrun

    The question is: How do you make the determination of mental stability? Do we require a psychiatric evaluation before allowing someone to buy a weapon? How do we separate those who are “responsible” from those who aren’t? What criteria do you use to base a “restriction” on?

    To me, this is a pointless and futile argument. People kill. They use a gun if they have one, but they can use a knife or a car or a broken beer bottle or even a hammer – sometimes they even use their bare hands. Outlawing the means to effect a murder will remove nearly every tool I have in my kitchen eventually.

    Personally, I don’t own a gun. But I have to support the liberty of others to make that choice for themselves.

  • JonThomas

    There are numerous ways to evaluate mental stability. We should require a psychiatric evaluation before buying a gun. We have a driver permits that a person has to go through that last a year or so before a person can drive by themselves, why not something similar with guns? Maybe actual “teachers.”

    There is no reason why, in this current system, that a person, unless they are replacing a damaged one, NEEDS a gun immediately.

    If a person does not show themselves able in a practical drivers test, they do not qualify. So, beyond a mental screening, we should have a practical test, even lessons for firearms given by the Police Dept.

    Yes, people do engage in violence with other weapons, especially in times of anger. Guns though, are different fro other weapons. A gun is vastly ore powerful and has the potential to hurt more than one person in a matter of seconds.

    Liberty may seems like a good argument here but no one has the “right” to make a choice that may lead to the intentional wounding or taking of a life.

    I’m not for banning guns, at this time, this society isn’t ready for such control. However, slowing the gun ownership process down, restricting access to, and extensive training on the responsible use of firearms, will not stop violence, but it will help make a more responsible atmosphere for a society that decides to have guns in the hands of citizens.

    Also, having a way of tracking, not just gun barrels in forensics, but also bullets back to the point of sale, would also help.

  • heartsword

    How about backing up your claim on the more deaths by gun fire than all the wars combined…!? 12 Million died in germany alone you liberal fear monger. And document the accident rate by gunfire on the Oregon trail while you are at it, you fearfull fairy. You have a point about the ill getting guns….then you run off into exagerations. Guns in the wrong hand are dangerous….and so are semi-intellectuals with 120IQ’s who pretend they are 150. Your a coward and freud.

  • Rob Stumpf

    Bill sounds more senile everytime he comments. How old is he?

  • Just thinking

    I suggest this, and it is only an idea. Why not propose an insurance plan that would be manditory if you own or plan to own a gun or guns. Not a tax but simular to how we pay for car insurance in order to protect ourselves from those that cannot keep themselves or you and I (or our children) safe? Take the money raised from this and hire the personel that the NRA says is needed to protect our children. Seems to me extremely fair. If you must for your own reasons possess weapons then help us all protect each other and children from the misguided and insane. No?

  • Stibber

    This “Demon NRA” is not some big bad wolf. It is a 140 year-old grass-roots organization of 4.5 million of your fellow law-abiding Americans who pay annual dues and voluntary contributions just to protect the rights they shouldn’t have to fight to protect. Rather ironic that NRA members need to pay the taxes to support the politicians hell-bent on tearing up the second amendment and then pay dues and contributions to protect their unailenable, God-given rights.