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article imageOp-Ed: Gun Rights or Gun Wrongs?

By Sadiq Green     Apr 19, 2012 in Politics
At the recent gathering of gun enthusiasts at the NRA’s annual convention in St. Louis, the organization’s Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre suggested the media was guilty of “sensational reporting” in reference to the Trayvon Martin case.
This is what has come to be expected from LaPierre and those who twist the Second Amendment to justify the proliferation of deadly firearms in our country. It is also what American citizens can no longer ignore and must push back against in every conceivable way.
LaPierre should accompany a parent to the morgue when they have to identify the body of a child mowed down by gun violence to see if the Second Amendment offers any comfort. For the mothers and fathers who have buried their children, such rationale provide little comfort and for communities infested with firearms the NRA’s rhetoric is simply salt poured in an open wound. There is no safe place from gun violence, and easy access to firearms, legally obtained or not, creates the opportunity for mayhem and death.
The NRA’s politics, and the support it receives from politicians in state capitals and in Congress, have been particularly poisonous in the Black community. As both Black men and youths are gunned down, and innocent children sent to their graves, the gun lobby seeks to make a distinction between “responsible” gun ownership and criminal behavior. To be clear; it’s not just Blacks who have been victimized by gun violence, but their communities are on the receiving end of a disproportionate amount of gun related deaths.
Whether it is the tragedy at Columbine High School, the attack at Virginia Tech University, the recent Tulsa shootings or the Alabama teenager accused of killing his middle school classmate, our nation has been for too long in the crosshairs of gun toting maniacs. And the National Rifle Association has served as their advocates and accomplice. Over the weekend an Ohio man fetched his shotgun and killed his wife in a restaurant after she informed him she was leaving him; he then tracked down his 10 year-old daughter and killed her in a restroom on her birthday and critically injured his other daughter. The blood of all of these victims stains the hands of the gun lobby and their champions in our nation’s capital.
Americans have been too complacent, too polite in showing disgust for the gun lobby and fighting back against their maniacal push to arm America. We have also failed to get behind politicians like New York City Mayor Bloomberg that have shown courage in taking on the NRA. If the tobacco industry could be held accountable for its negative impact on public health, the gun industry can be likewise held responsible for its role in compromising public health. Manufacturers of toy guns must be confronted to provide stricter labeling, along with the packaging of violent video games. Hollywood must be pushed to do more by way of public education if it is going to continue to glamorize guns in movies and on television. Gun violence is a public health crisis and needs to be treated as such.
The NRA convention was where a man with a truckload of guns threatened the life of President Obama if he's re-elected. Rock star and gun fanatic Ted Nugent did just that, laying into the Obama administration as "vile," "evil" and "America-hating" over the weekend in St. Louis. He proceeded to claim that he would be "dead or in jail by this time next year" if Obama is reelected and encouraged attendees to vote against Democrats and "ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November." Setting the Second Amendment aside for a moment, if there were a First Amendment line to cross, that should be it. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech but it cannot insulate folks against the social and cultural repercussions that come from saying something offensive and that can potentially incite violence.
If Americans continue to accept the National Rifle Association’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, and allow politicians and the courts to hide behind “the law,” we might as well invest in companies that manufacture body bags because there will be plenty of business to go around to keep them profitable.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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