After the horror in Parkland, FL, there are the usual calls from the usual suspects to ban “assault rifles” and shut down the NRA; as if the NRA itself trained the murderer in how to kill innocents. Blaming the NRA for this mass murder is roughly equivalent to blaming the number of traffic deaths in the United States on the American Automobile Association: Both of them are membership organization built around the enjoyable and safe use of a particular piece of technology. No more, no less.
The problem happens when that particular piece of technology is used for evil and violent purposes, and this is true of gun and automobile alike. The technology is not the issue, the way it’s used to harm other people is the issue. To borrow from Bill Clinton: it’s the violence, stupid.
Let’s assume that violence is a drug (after all, it does have a serious effect on brain chemistry) and that America is addicted to violence. Not just any ol’ sort of violence, but rather, violence without any significant societal repercussions. We have too many young people today who view violence as a legitimate means to just about every end, and too many celebrities who think there should be no repercussions when they imply violence in their speech.
If so, then blaming murders on NRA members is like blaming the heroin problem on diabetics. Yes, both of those groups use needles, but they use them for very different purposes. If the violent use of a gun is the problem, shouldn’t we look at treating the causes of the addiction, the causes of the violence itself, and do so with the understanding that once we reduce the impact of that problem, the misuse of the paraphernalia will be reduced as well? Shouldn’t the same progressives who celebrate the legalization of marijuana and the creation of safe injection sites for heroin addicts see the futility of advocating for a ban on a very limited, very small type of paraphernalia? Just like medical marijuana, shouldn’t we celebrate the people who see the useful societal benefits of something that others think should be banned? Shouldn’t we treat the causes of the addiction first? Isn’t that’s what best for society?
I hope progressives will find an answer to these questions and find them soon.