Friday, October 9, 2015

Jim Wallis on Gun Violence

Evangelical pastor Jim Wallis calls our Republican support of the gun lobby on

There is nothing we can do to reduce the growing number of mass shootings in America — except get more people to have guns. Unbelievably, that’s what conservative spokespersons and Republican presidential candidates are saying after the latest college massacre in Oregon which killed 10 and wounded 7 others.


 Saying there is nothing we can do to end such killings is patently untrue. And suggesting that more guns in more places would reduce gun violence is not only morally irresponsible, but also flies in the face of all the facts. Suppose we arm everyone — do we really want to live in that kind of country and raise our children there? Or send our children to college on those campuses, as I will do for the first time next fall? I think there is a better interpretation of the Second Amendment than the idea that the Constitution allows individual citizens to own whatever form of lethal weapons they want.

Let’s be honest: of course this is a complicated issue. The horrific gun violence that keeps destroying lives and families involves the greed of gun manufacturers — let’s call them gun runners — who profit when more guns are sold to more people. Though the majority of National Rifle Association (NRA) members support common sense background checks and research into gun violence, the NRA consistently uses its political influence to block this legislation — after all, less than half of the NRA’s funding comes from membership dues, with most of its funding from those who make and sell guns…let’s call it blood money.

In an excellent analysis by Nick Kristof, a columnist known for getting the facts right, he reports some deeply unsettling truths. First, that an average of 92 gun deaths happen every day in America. As a result, since 1970, more Americans have died from guns than died in all U.S. wars going back to the American Revolution. That’s about 1.4 million war deaths since 1775, compared to about 1.45 million gun deaths since 1970 (including murders, accidents, and suicides—which comprise about 60 percent of US gun deaths). Second, in America, more preschoolers (which Kristof defines as newborns through age 4) are shot dead each year (82 in 2013) than police officers are in the line of duty (27 in 2013). Kristof also references a poll this year , which found that “majorities even of gun-owners favor universal background checks; tighter regulation of gun dealers; safe storage requirements in homes; and a 10-year prohibition on possessing guns for anyone convicted of domestic violence, assault or similar offenses.”

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