NRA's Wayne LaPierre Has Blood on His Hands for Aurora Shooting and Many Others
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These statistics translate into real-life tragedies. In 2010, there were 12,996 murders in the United States and 8,775 (24 a day) were caused by firearms. Suicides and unintentional shootings account for another 20,000 deaths by guns each year. Of course, many more people are injured -- some seriously, and permanently -- by gun violence.
Many gun-related deaths are committed by people who purchase their weapons legally. Others purchase or steal them illegally, but their ability to get access to guns is due to our lax laws on gun ownership.
The news media will spend an inordinate amount of effort trying to figure out what was in Holmes' head before he put on his protective gear, carried three guns into the theater, and began his attack. On Sunday, when Meet the Press host David Gregory asked Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper whether this Aurora incident should lead to a discussion of gun control, he avoided the question entirely and instead focused on the killer's state of mind, calling him "demonic," "twisted," and "deeply, deeply disturbed." Although the psychology of the murderer may be fascinating, it should not be the major focus. There are plenty of deranged people in the world, but in most well-off countries they can't easily get their hands on a firearm.
The U.S. has more guns per capita than any other well-off democratic country. But the danger isn't simply the number of guns; it is the type of guns we allow people to legally purchase. Other countries permit hunting rifles. But many Americans believe it is their right to own an assault weapon.
Here's where the NRA comes in. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, since 1990, the gun rights lobby has contributed $27.7 million to candidates for Congress and the White House, 86% of it to Republicans.
Of course, Democrats are not immune from the NRA's influence. Seventeen House Democrats recently voted in favor of criminal contempt for Attorney General Eric Holder for his oversight of Operation Fast and Furious. Not surprisingly, each of them received campaign contributions from the NRA in the last two election cycles. And each of them is on the hit list of vulnerable Democrats whose districts have a Republican or conservative majority of voters, and thus targets of NRA efforts to unseat them.
At the top of the gun rights food-chain is the NRA's Wayne LaPierre. Its hard to know if he's mentally unstable but he's certainly crazy like a fox (and Fox News). For example, he recently gave a well-received speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington in which he said that President Obama was part of a "conspiracy to ensure re-election by lulling gun owners to sleep." LaPierre added: "All that first term, lip service to gun owners is just part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment during his second term." He also warned that "gun owners across America have fought to achieve over the past three decades could be lost" if Obama wins a second term.
Every American grieves for the families and friends of the people killed and injured in the Aurora shooting. So far LaPierre has been silent on the Aurora gun massacre. But until we tame the power of the NRA, we can expect more killings like this, as well as the deadly daily diet of murders throughout America committed by angry and in some cases crazy gun-toting people whose "freedom" to own weapons of mass destruction LaPierre defends.