The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 11, 2013

My View: Guns: The unsolvable problem

(Continued)

Further, crime deterrence statistics do not account for the other consequences of widespread gun availability: suicides, accidental shootings, and domestic “crimes of passion.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that having a gun in the house makes the odds of an accidental shooting or child’s suicide greater than the likelihood of stopping a home invader. Six hundred people were killed in accidental shootings and more than 14,000 injured in 2010, according to The New York Times.

There was once a time that the NRA was principally a sportsman’s organization. I was a member then. It is now a front group for the gun industry. Wayne LaPierre and the NRA leadership claim they are defending the Second Amendment, but in practice, they are promoting gun ownership by fear-mongering and spreading nutty conspiracy theories about the U.N. confiscating Americans’ guns. (And no, there are no U.N. black helicopters, either.)

In the paranoid world of the NRA leadership, every restriction on military-style weapons is portrayed as a “slippery slope” leading inevitably to a ban on hunting rifles. LaPierre once labeled federal law enforcement officers “jack-booted thugs” and “Nazis” and accused them of planning to take people’s guns away.

The NRA leadership is so extreme that even their members don’t agree with them: poll after poll, including one last July by GOP pollster Frank Luntz, found that 74 percent of NRA members and 83 percent of all gun owners support a requirement for criminal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun, and broad majorities support other controls on guns, such as assault rifle bans, closing the gun show loophole, and stopping “straw-buyers.”

Australia instituted a similar approach, along with a gun amnesty and buyback program following a 1996 rampage that killed 35 people. While previously the country had suffered roughly one mass killing per year, there have been no rampages since 1996, and firearm homicides dropped 59 percent between 1995 and 2006.

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