NRA's Wayne LaPierre Has Blood on His Hands for Aurora Shooting and Many Others
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The Brady Campaign has a 62-page list of mass shootings in America since 2005. It is Wayne LaPierre's resume.
For 21 years, LaPierre has been the executive VP and chief political strategist of the National Rifle Association. The blood of the victims of the Aurora, Colorado shooting is on his hands.
Of course, LaPierre didn't pull the trigger, but he's the NRA's hit man when it comes to intimidating elected officials to oppose any kind of gun control and the nation's most vocal advocate of gun owner rights.
The NRA not only lobbies on behalf of "stand your ground" laws, but also offers insurance to members to pay for the legal costs of shooting people in "self-defense." The NRA also defends the right of Americans to carry concealed weapons, including handguns.
James Holmes, the man who walked into the Aurora movie theater, killed 12 people and wounded 58 others, is no doubt deranged. He's not alone. There are lots of crazy people around. But if we make it easy for them to obtain guns, they are more likely to translate their psychological problems into dangerous and deadly anti-social behavior. The three guns Holmes used in the killings were all purchased legally.
LaPierre's job (which he's held for 21 years) is to make it easier for people to buy and use guns. And so far he's been very successful.
It is no accident that the United States ranks first in the world -- by a wide margin -- in gun-related civilian deaths and injuries. Compared with every other democracy, we have the most guns and the weakest gun laws. The shooting at the Aurora movie theater was not an isolated incident. We've almost become used to a regular diet of gun-toting rampages. The most visible of them -- like Columbine, the Virginia Tech killings and the Arizona shooting that nearly claimed the life of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and left six others dead -- stick in our minds, but there are many others. Even more Americans are killed each year in one-on-one shootings.
The NRA has two knee-jerk responses to this. The first is that the Second Amendment gives all Americans the right to possess guns of all kinds -- not just hunting rifles but machine guns and semi-automatics. Efforts to restrict gun sales and ownership is, according to the NRA, an assault on our constitutional freedoms. The second is the cliché that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." To the NRA, gun laws have nothing to do with the epidemic of gun-related killings.
Both of these arguments are bogus, but the NRA has the money and membership (4 million) to translate these idiot ideas into political clout to thwart even reasonable gun-control laws.
Even in countries with strong gun-control laws, some people will get their hands on a weapon and destroy others' lives. The tragic killing in Norway one year ago is testament to this reality. (Although let's recall that Anders Breivik bought $550 worth of 30-round ammunition clips from an American gun supplier for the rifle he used to kill 69 Norwegian kids at a summer camp. Thanks to American laws, it was a legal online purchase.) But the shooting in Norway was an infrequent occurrence; it is, in fact, one of the safest countries in the world. In contrast, the U.S. is off the charts in terms of murder rates. In other well-off democratic countries, gun violence is rare and shocking.
According to the most recent comparative figures, the U.S. had five murders for every 100,000 inhabitants. Finland was next with only 2.3 murders per 100,000 residents, followed by Canada (1.8), Belgium (1.7), France (1.3), England and Australia (both 1.2), Netherlands (1.1), Sweden (1.0), Germany (0.8), Norway (0.6) and Japan and Austria (both 0.5). In other words, America's murder rate is more than eight times greater than Norway's.