Editorial: After Every Massacre, Gun Owners Must Stand Up and Fight

   10.07.15

“The best defense is a good offense.” – Every coach everywhere

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” – Rahm Emanuel

Every time we have a mass shooting, both sides of the gun debate follow the same script. The anti-gunners come out in full force, waving the latest bloody shirt and blaming the tragedy on the NRA, the second amendment, guns, and gun owners everywhere. They’re not grasping at straws or flailing about looking for targets of opportunity; they know exactly what they want. They have a list of specific enemies that they use the tragedy to smear, and they have a specific list of legislative proposals on file that they immediately begin introducing in state legislatures.

What do gun owners, and especially the NRA’s current leadership, do? First we lay low, waiting for the (self-)righteous outrage to die down a bit. Then a few brave souls poke their heads up from the foxhole and try to go on the defensive, asserting our constitutional rights, talking about how nothing could’ve been done to prevent this tragedy, and lamely pointing to various statistics that bolster our cause.

So in response to the anti-gunners’ emotionally charged rhetoric and powerful images of grieving parents, dead children, and candlelight vigils, we offer the public a few charts showing the decades-long decline in gun violence, some tired bromides, various hypotheticals about a possible future need for armed revolution, and some talk about our rights.

And how’s that working out for us? Not so well, at least from where we’re sitting here at AllOutdoor.com.

Sure, if you live in a pro-gun state, you’re doing okay. But what about our brothers and sisters in CA, MA, NY, and DC? Are we just going to leave them behind and let the grandstanding politicians in these states trample the rights of American citizens? Is our only response to gun owners in those states, “pack up and move?” Seriously? It’s almost like we want to reinforce the media stereotype of gun owners as selfish jerks who care for their own hide and nobody else’s.

No, we need to take a page from the anti-gunners playbook and have an organized plan of attack. And the moment a crisis hits, we need to stand together and fight.

We won’t just be fighting for our gun rights; we’ll be fighting for liberty, safety, and sanity as well. We know that the anti-gunners’ proposals are going to make us all less safe by turning law-abiding citizens into the targets of SWAT team raids and emboldening criminals and psychos with the certainty that their victims are unarmed. We cannot cede them any ground.

Here are some specific suggestions for ways that, when the next crisis strikes, we can go on the offensive and bring about real, positive change that will make us all safer and more free.

Find Common Ground, and Stand Firm on It

Gun rights are currently framed as a left vs. right issue, but they shouldn’t be. They’re a liberty vs tyranny issue, a heritage and identity issue, and a safety of life and limb issue. But we must not let them get tangled up in the hyper-partisan “conservatives versus liberals” sideshow that the media propagates every election season.

Certainly, many gun owners identify as “conservative” or “Republican”, but there are plenty of gun owners and gun rights sympathizers out there who, though they may not self-identify as “liberal,” nonetheless have no love for Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck, believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, are deeply concerned about wealth inequality, or are convinced that climate change is real and that humans are causing it, etc. No matter what side of these controversial issues a person stands on, reasonable, pro-gun people of every party and political stripe can and must stand side-by-side to protect our second amendment rights.

That means more than just not alienating moderate and left-leaning gun owners by turning every gun rights event into a GOP rally. We must actively seek to find common ground where we can all stand together, regardless of our disagreements on other issues. The proposals below are aimed at doing just that.

Name and Shame

The moment a crisis hits, we need to come out swinging and name the root causes. And we can’t go casting about for straw men, like Wayne LaPierre notoriously did in the wake of Newtown. There should be a list, and it should be the same list every time. Every. Single. Time.

Here are our candidates for a rogue’s gallery of gun violence villains. We think it’s reasonable and accurate, and if we could address each of these issues it would go a long way toward reducing America’s already historically low gun homicide rate, while protecting our second amendent rights and keeping law abiding citizens from needless and wastefully expensive government harassment.

The war on drugs: The vast majority of gun violence in this country is drug-related. Ending the war on drugs would end much of the street warfare in places like Chicago and New York, and ending that warfare would cut the gun homicide numbers that anti-gunners love to quote by some 90 percent. Let’s stop this madness and take the anti-gunners’ largest statistical weapon right out of their hands.

A hyper-militarized police culture that sees a loaded gun pointed at a citizen’s head as the solution to every problem: Sadly, in today’s America, the average person whose life has no intersection with the War on Drugs is far more likely to be shot by a cop than a criminal. America’s obsession with police militarization has gotten completely out of hand, and we now essentially have the very standing army in our midst that the Founders warned us against. And all of this is despite the fact that only about 100 police officers will get killed in the line of duty this year, a number that has not been this low in 60 years.

Gun free zones: We’re already naming and shaming this villain, but we must be louder about it. Seriously, how dense do you have to be not to understand that “Gun Free Zone” is just another way to spell “Fish In A Barrel”?

Gun ban proponents who would leave criminals armed and the innocent helpless: The anti-gun crowd wants the US to look more like the UK, where only the criminals have guns and gun violence has risen since the government finally succeeded in a decades-long attempt to disarm the populace in 1997. And we have to be crystal clear: despite what they falsely claim about “sportsmen” and “self defense,” the anti-gun crowd’s long-term goal is to take all guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens and leave them at the mercy of the lawless. Period, end of story.

Cuts in funding for public mental health services: A lot of pro-gun advocates are anti-tax and believe that the government is always part of the problem, never the solution. We believe that the government does have a role to play in matters of public safety. And make no mistake, in the present era of mass killings, mental health services are definitely a matter of public safety. Many of the same states that have been voting for increasingly draconian gun control measures have also been cutting funding and support for the mentally ill.

Lack of public funding for mental health research, especially into the psychology and physiology of mass murderers: Did you know that nearly every mass shooting perpetrator in the past two decades years has been on psychotropic drugs? Let’s figure out if this is a real thing or not, and if it is let’s do something about it.

The media’s saturation coverage of a mass murder’s every thought, action, and deranged utterance: Whenever there’s a spree killing, the media blankets every inch of screen and print with the killer’s face. His writings and online interactions are pored over in detail, and talking heads spend weeks repeating his name over and over and over again. All of this media coverage gives these disturbed individuals the fame that they crave, and there’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that it’s directly linked to the spread of this type of mayhem.

Advance Specific Proposals

In line with the problems we’ve identified above, we want to propose specific, workable solutions that should be able to find wide bipartisan support without needlessly infringing on anyone’s rights or turning law abiding citizens into criminals and targets for police harassment.

End the war on drugs. Let’s eliminate all prison time for non-violent drug offenses and spend some of the giant mountain of money we’ll save on something useful, like counseling and treatment programs for drug addicts and the mentally ill, paying down the national debt, repairing roads and schools, or literally anything else.

De-militarize and de-federalize the police. Halting and reversing the alarming national trend of militarized policing will be a critical step in preventing more innocent Americans from getting shot. Take away the military hardware that the police have been getting through the Department of Defense’s Excess Property Program, shut down the federally run fusion centers, bar any police communication and cooperation with the NSA, disband all SWAT teams in cities of less than 500,000 people, end no-knock raids, end the abuse of civil forfeiture (where police keep what they seize), and crack down on police entrapment.

Eliminate gun free zones. These places are targets for mass killers, and they make us all less safe. It’s time to put an end to this dangerously misguided idea and allow duly licensed armed citizens to carry anywhere and everywhere.

Don’t let the anti-gun crowd’s lies go unchallenged. Call them out on their real gun and confiscation agenda every single time they deny it on TV, online, and in print. They want to completely disarm honest citizens, and when they claim otherwise, they’re lying through their teeth. Here’s a question you can ask an anti-gun politician the next time they tell you that nobody wants to take your guns: “So you’re telling me that if there were a UK- or Australian-style gun ban and confiscation scheme working its way through congress and it looked like it had a good chance of passing, you would vote against it?”

Increase public funding for mental health services. Since 2009, states have been drastically cutting funding for mental health services. In many areas there is literally no support network for parents of disturbed children who are at risk of becoming the next Adam Lanza. Let’s turn that around, preferably by taking the money we spend prosecuting and imprisoning non-violent drug offenders and trying to actually help people with it.

Increase public funding for research into the psychology of spree killers. What motivates the new breed of mass murderers, and what causes them to snap? Why did this phenomenon emerge now, and not 30 years ago when the public had even easier access to guns, including fully automatic weapons? These would all be great research questions for a large-scale research program aimed at finding the root causes of the school shooting phenomenon so that we can end it for good.

Demand a media blackout of every spree killer’s name, image, and writings or videos. We must keep the names and faces of these killers off of the network news and out of the papers, and deny them the 15 minutes of fame and notoriety that they desperately crave. If media outlets want to give saturation coverage to a mass killing story, then let them devote their attention to the stories of the victims and their families, and to analyzing the police response. Information about the killers should be available, of course, to anyone who wants it, but they should have to actively search for it, instead of having it shoved in their face around the clock.

The Time is Now

Don’t let this latest crisis go to waste because the other side sure won’t. It’s time for gun owners to stand up and be take the offensive.

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