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Brady Campaign: NRA Wrong -- Gun Ownership Actually Down

By Paul Helmke

The NRA is wrong again –as wrong as it was in 2009 when its President Wayne LaPierre suggested that our founding fathers believed that so-called “Second Amendment remedies” were the way to ensure democracy.

The NRA is misleading again — as misleading as Glenn Beck was when he said he wanted to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. by hosting his ego-driven rally on August 28.

The NRA can’t help exposing itself and its any gun for anybody anywhere agenda again — the way Lady Gaga can’t help exposing her…well, you get my point.

The NRA’s latest lie is just an updated twist on the old one that more guns equal less crime. Using the FBI’s recent crime rate report, which indicates that violent crime fell last year for the third year in a row, the NRA has taken to its perch to wave and shout and dance and steal the credit.

It’s clear the NRA bosses don’t want just to make the rules; they want also to treat us as fools.

Wrong. Again.

In 2009, gun sales, not gun ownership increased. Which means that in 2009, after a successful campaign of fear-mongering about President Obama among its followers, more of the same guys who love guns bought…wait for it, more guns.

In truth, the average number of guns per owner has gone up, but the average number of Americans who own guns? That’s right: it’s gone down. Gun ownership has gone down from a high in 1977 of 54 percent to 33 percent in 2009.  But for the NRA bosses, any excuse to fear-monger is better than none.

If more guns meant less crime, then we should be the safest people in the world. In truth, more guns mean more gun violence. While I cheer the news that violent crime rates in America have gone down, most of us know that there are many factors that contribute to crime rates. And most importantly, I know the all-too-sobering truth: America has the highest number of guns in the industrialized world and our citizens make up 80 percent of people in the industrialized world who die from bullet blasts.

I know that within the last two weeks, Paul Warren Pardus, a distraught man with a semi-automatic handgun, took his own life, his mother’s, and tried to take the life of Dr. David B. Cohen at the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

I know that within the last two weeks, Stephen A. Carr, of Fairfax County, Va., was terrorized and then shot and killed by his neighbor, David A. Patton, who had a Concealed Carry permit. Patton reportedly was ticked off that Carr had led the successful charge to have a speed bump installed in the neighborhood they shared. He apparently decided that his outrage over having to drive more slowly warranted Carr’s murder. (Patton might also have killed Carr’s girlfriend, but she escaped and called police.)

I know that every day in America,  32 times, somebody’s mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, and child dies because of gun violence.

I know that, contrary to the gun lobby’s fantasies, if you keep a gun in your home, the person most likely to kill you already has the key to your house.
The heart-crushing, unending pain of this truth is endured daily by countless American families, including the family of Brady Campaign activist Joan Peterson of Minnesota, whose sister died at the gun-wielding-hands of her husband in 1992.  Still today, the ache, pain, and trauma of her family’s loss lingers.

I know that, in a nation that is experiencing the most disruptive economic climate in 70 years, when homelessness is exploding, and poverty is growing, and people are going without jobs for years at a time, more guns in more hands or more homes is not a policy those who love their country should want to promote.

As researchers in a recent report on gun violence pointed out,  “Whatever our basic level of violence… readily accessible firearms – by making killing easy, efficient, and somewhat impersonal – increase the lethality of violence. ”

Knowing this, those who love their country should be expected to support sensible gun laws, such as the Brady law, which requires criminal background checks on anyone who seeks to buy a gun from federally licensed dealers. Since 1994, more than 1.8 million prohibited purchasers have been stopped from buying a gun by this law. Tell former Ronald Reagan Press Secretary Jim Brady, who was shot and seriously wounded by a man who should not have gotten a gun, that those numbers don’t mean anything.

Or tell that to Tennille Jefferson, the mother of 7-year-old Nafis Jefferson, who was struck in the head and killed by a bullet fired by another child, who found the gun underneath a car in his South Philadelphia neighborhood. A man who was prohibited by law from owning a gun had abandoned the Rossi revolver that took the 7-year-old’s life.

But, maybe that’s where I’m wrong. The guys with the guns talk about loving their country, but if we examine their actions, it seems clear that above all, darn the bloody consequences: they love their guns more.


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