INDIANAPOLIS – A few days ago, another disturbed man entered a crowded building and opened fire.
He carried two semi-automatic weapons, both apparently with extra-capacity magazines. One of the guns also seems to have been fitted with a sound suppressor. The man shot people at random before law-enforcement officials cornered him and shot him to death.
Before the police stopped his rampage, though, 12 innocent people were dead. Four others had been wounded.
The gunman, it seems, bought his weapons and their human-killing accessories through legal means.
That’s not surprising.
Virginia’s legislature, like Indiana’s and so many others in America, takes pride in being a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Rifle Association and the firearms industry. Like Indiana, Virginia has some of the laxest gun laws in the nation.
Just a few months ago, gun-loving lawmakers in the Virginia legislature knocked back a proposal that would have outlawed the larger capacity magazines the shooter in Virginia Beach used. Proponents for the ban argued that such devices weren’t needed for hunting or even for self-defense.
The only thing they’re truly needed for is what the shooter used them for.
Killing a lot of people in a hurry.
It didn’t matter.
Anything that slows the sales of firearms and the accompanying ring of the cash register is something the NRA is against.
Regardless of how many innocent people get killed as a result.
Now, 12 more people are dead.
God knows how many more will carry wounds and grief with them for the rest of their lives.
All to keep the NRA and the firearms industry happy.
The NRA has been in the news a lot lately.
Reporters from several news organizations and investigators in multiple legal actions have uncovered financial practices on the part of the gun lobbying group that would make a bank robber blush.
It turns out the NRA’s leaders have bilked their members and others out of tens of millions of dollars. They’ve channeled massive payouts to spouses, ex-spouses, friends, cronies and other hangers-on.
They’ve been so generous in spreading around this largesse that the NRA now spends less than 10 percent of its funds on gun-safety education and training.
Such education was supposed to be the NRA’s main mission, its reason for existing.
The organization’s financial irregularities are so great that its tax-exempt status now is threatened. If it loses its tax-exempt designation, the NRA likely will die.
But not before many more innocent Americans do.
That the NRA’s financial empire was made up of lies shouldn’t be news to anyone who isn’t terminally gullible.
The NRA’s commitment to lying knows few bounds.
In public policy debates, the organization’s flacks – and their stooges in the nation’s legislatures – will fudge and falsify the numbers relating to the epidemic of gun-related violence in America in any way they can to make a case that guns can’t be part of the problem. They will wrench “facts” out of context or just make them up if it suits their purpose.
They will fight to suppress the gathering of accurate information about gun-related deaths and injuries. That’s why it’s against the law for the Centers for Disease Control even to study gun violence as a public health problem.
The result of this slavish obeisance to an organization and industry devoted to telling lies about guns and gun violence is that we now have more Americans dying as a result of wounds from firearms than die in automobile accidents. An American is 2000 percent – that’s 2000 percent – more likely to die by gun than a citizen in the rest of the developed world.
We lead the world by a similarly wide margin in the numbers of mass shootings.
We added some more names in Virginia Beach to that tragic list, 12 more martyrs to the shameful cause of placing a higher value on guns than people.
Lord knows how many more will join them until we stop listening to the lies the NRA sells about guns and gun policy.
And the liars who tell those lies.