America doesn’t just have a gun problem; we have a gun fetish. We stand virtually alone in the world when it comes to cleaving to our firearms the way a child clings to their security blanket. If there are aliens out there, they’ve likely avoided earth because they want nothing to do with a race that derives comfort, and even self-worth, from possessing products designed specifically to end human lives.
Nowhere is America’s unhealthy fascination with guns more evident than in the hallowed Free Market, where gun sales represent a $6 billion industry. There are almost as many guns in the United States as human beings. No other country on earth can claim that dubious honor.
Who’s Pulling the Strings?
Last year saw the strongest gun sales in the month of June ever. Do you know what else happened that month? That’s right — Dylan Roof’s bull-in-a-china-shop rampage through Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina.
Are you beginning to see the vicious cycle here? The National Rifle Association wants us to believe that more guns mean more safety, but back in reality, literally the exact opposite trend holds true: More guns beget more violence. It’s really that simple — and, really, it’s a matter of common sense, is it not?
So who’s pulling the strings here? Who disseminates these lies, carefully disguised as pleas for public safety? Who insists on yet more “thoughts” and “prayers” when barbarism rears its head? And who profits when savagery occurs, like what happened in Orlando?
The answers are so obvious — and so disappointing.
The National Rifle Propaganda Association
An urban legend suggests that former Speaker of the House John Boehner once handed out Big Tobacco kickback checks on the House floor. This story would probably sound dubious and apocryphal if Boehner himself hadn’t admitted it freely.
But, while Boehner may have been a bit less brazen about his NRA ties during his Speakership, he remained one of the most steadfast allies the NRA had in Washington.
For the average American citizen, deducing which politicians have sworn fealty to the NRA should be an easy process: They’re the ones offering thoughts and prayers after massacres like Orlando, rather than common-sense reforms that could help keep guns away from criminals.
But if you want something a little more concrete, turn to the world of true vigilante journalism, such as Igor Volsky’s (Deputy Director for the Center for American Progress) vicious Twitter storm, in which he calls out Congressmen for their NRA ties and their total indifference to tragedy.
He names names and even reveals how much money the NRA has furnished to secure their support in government. Some, like Representative Gary Palmer, were bought off embarrassingly easily, with a sum of just $2,000, while others, like Pat Tiberi, raked in $18,400 in exchange for fighting against legislation that would prevent suspected terrorists from buying firearms.
Since we’ve posed a simple question here — “Who profits from gun violence?” — we should furnish a straightforward answer:
- First, the NRA profits, by capitalizing on, and marketing directly to, people whose fears have been stoked by public outbursts of violence.
- Second, either because they, themselves, are scared, or because they’ve sold their integrity, members of Congress profit by echoing the NRA’s same shameless fearmongering from the bully pulpit we call Congress.
Make no mistake: The NRA is not some “outdoorsman” club that looks out for the well-being of its acolytes — instead, it’s a full-fledged marketing machine for gun, ammo and gun accessories manufacturers such as Beretta, Springfield Armory, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, Cabala’s and Smith & Wesson.
If you are a card-carrying member of the NRA, you directly support one of the most successful propaganda machines in the Western hemisphere. That piece of folksy wisdom about wicked liberals “coming for your guns?” That would be a not-so-artful piece of fearmongering disingenuousness from — you guessed it — the NRA. And it was thoroughly debunked as far back a 2009.
Granted, the trail of complicity doesn’t end there — not by a long shot. Also benefiting from gun violence are gun shop owners and lawyers, both of which fall all over themselves to capitalize on rising public fears.
To be fair, lawyers do have an important role to play as these tragedies play themselves out, as wrongful death lawsuits can often be powerful tools for drumming up public awareness of what needs to change in order to effectively address this problem, not to mention providing often much-needed funds for the devastated relatives left behind.
Playing the Odds
America is home to countless industries that don’t need to exist at all. After all, who said the pursuit of profit would result in a more effective healthcare system? Or education system? And how can a person sleep at night knowing they profit directly from death?
The NRA and its legions of blindly faithful followers (as well as some not-so-blind ones) are a cancer on America, purposefully distorting the truth to make a buck. Some people are even forced to support the firearms industry without even realizing it.
But what are we really talking about here? Owning a gun is a matter of protecting ourselves from harm, right? Or so we’re told. The truth, though, indicates that getting behind the wheel of a car poses more of a risk to the average American than all of the world’s terrorist organizations combined. And the odds of actually being killed by a terrorist on US soil is significantly smaller than your chances of dying from radon exposure — and rather few people even know what radon is.
In other words, people respond only to the threats they’re aware of — and they’re hyper aware of the creeping threat of terrorism — even if it’s a relatively small one.
Oh, right: Did I mention mainstream “news” outlets profit from tragedy as well? That goes without saying.
It’s a sensible thing, looking out for one’s safety. But if you feel you need to wear a gun on your hip just to attend your son’s college graduation, you might have a very poor grasp on reality. That, or you’re in the pocket of the gun lobby.
There really aren’t a lot of other options.