$chool $hootings

Seventeen children were murdered in Parkland, Florida by yet another assailant armed with an AR-15, and the President’s response was not to seek ban or even limit access to this weapon, but to propose arming teachers.  Why limit access to semi-automatic, military-caliber weapons, when you can put one in the hands of every man, woman and child?

 The answer to why there may never be an end to gun violence is the same reason why there may never been an end to war: the financial profits outweigh the cost of life.

Nearly sixty years ago, President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex: the notion that war drove the economy, so the arms industry would influence the government to keep us at war.  President Eisenhower warned that an alliance between the arms industry and industrial leaders on one hand, and the government on the other, though necessary, was vulnerable to the abuse of power.

President Eisenhower’s warning rings as true today as it did then, but now extends to a type of domestic warfare: the drive by the NRA and its partners in government to arm every American with automatic weapons. Its answer to every gun massacre is “a good guy with a gun would have stopped this.”   President Trump’s recommendation after the slaughter of 17 children in Parkland, Florida was to arm teachers.  Why ban assault weapons, when you can create a market niche to sell even more?

The NRA spent thirty million dollars to support Trump’s presidential campaign.[1]  It donated over three million dollars to Senator Marco Rubio.[2]  Imagine how many meals that money could have bought, or the funding that could have gone to research cures for disease. But, instead of investing in life, the NRA invests in death, and the return on its investment undeniable.  The firearms industry posts yearly revenues in excess of thirteen billion dollars.[3] The NRA’s annual revenue is in excess three hundred million dollars.[4]

A company that sells bump stocks, the device that turns conventional weapons into virtual machines guns—the device used in the Vegas killings—held a President’s Day sale for the accessory in purported homage to President Trump.[5] Did the President seek this ‘homage’? Not directly, but by inaction in the face of the Vegas shooting, he did so implicitly.  The day after, the President called on his Justice Department to ban the weapon, but such a ban is in Congress’s hands, not the DOJ, and Congress has been silent on the issue.

The reason why there is no gun safety legislation is that there is no money in it. The collaboration between the gun industry and the GOP is the new military-industrial complex, and so long as those beholden to NRA dollars hold positions of power in the government, nothing will change.  No matter how many die, no matter whether it’s a movie theater in Colorado, a concert in Las Vegas, a high school in Florida or even an elementary school in Sandy Hook, their answer will always be the same: more guns.

NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch stated at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that the media “loved” mass shootings, her exact words “crying white mothers are ratings gold.”  Even if this charge were correct, there is an easy way for NRA to cut off this purported revenue stream: stop promoting the mass availability of military weapons to citizens.

The NRA argues for unlimited rights to unlimited weapons for unlimited persons.  You’re a diagnosed sociopath? No problem! Here is your AR-15. You’re on a terrorist watch list and can’t get on an airplane? You are not safe enough to fly, but want a military-caliber weapon that shoots 70 rounds a minute, no problem! The NRA has you covered.

Florida’s gun laws are so lax as to be nearly non-existent. Anyone, regardless of their mental health or history of violence can obtain any weapon. Florida does not require gun owners to register their guns, and does not require a permit to own one. You can even buy one online. [6]

The argument that the Second Amendment grants every citizen unlimited access to unlimited firearms is false on its face. The Amendment provides the right to bear arms of a “well-regulated militia.”  Even if you omit the word “militia”—and how can you—you cannot ignore the word “well-regulated”, and opine that regulations on ownership are unconstitutional.

Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Warren Burger, stated that the idea that the Second Amendment guarantees unlimited access to weapons "has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud' on the American public.

But, all is not lost. We can fight violence by cutting off its true source: finances.  Boycott companies that do business with the NRA. Donate to organizations and leaders that fight for safer schools.

We can also join the students seeking change to gun laws. People once said that women and minorities never should and would never be given the right to vote. As recently as 5 years ago, people said same sex couples never would be afforded the right to marry. Young people stood up and said “No! We deserve a better world”, and when the opponents of change refused to listen, the pushed for leaders who would.  As was the case with the civil rights movement in the 60’s, it seems that America’s youth will finally solve this.  Soon, they will be old enough to vote, and they will vote for leaders who put life over NRA donations, and only then will we seen change. They are leading the same to fight for change that many have successfully done before. We can do the one and only thing their age prevents them from doing: vote for leaders who will give them the future they deserve. I urge you to join them. I certainly will.

[1] http://www.newsweek.com/did-nra-channel-russian-money-trump-793487

[2] http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/rubio-nra-3-3m-man-doubts-gun-laws-stopped-massacre-article-1.3823973

[3] https://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/02/americas-gun-business-by-the-numbers.html

[4] http://money.cnn.com/news/cnnmoney-investigates/nra-funding-donors/index.html

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/18/rapid-fire-rifle-device-on-special-offer-in-salute-to-donald-trump

[6] https://gun.laws.com/state-gun-laws/florida-gun-laws

Contributing Editor: Howard Altman, Long Island, New York

I am an attorney and aspiring writer living in New York with my golden doodle, Barney. I cook, bake, play the piano and write. I wanted to be Weird Al when I grew up, but had to settle for the law and Twitter. You can find me on twitter @HowardA_Esq.

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