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Gun fanatics are complicit in Parkland

Behind the NRA and its bought Congress are people who care more about guns than people

Jeffrey Denny

Ok, militant defenders of AR-15 assault-style, combat-grade weapons and the inalienable right of anyone, anywhere, to buy one:

For just a moment, drop your fog of semantics and existentialist nonsense about what is or isn’t an assault weapon … your circular and reductio ad absurdum logic to rationalize your gun obsession … your hollow thoughts, prayers and hearts going out and desperate spin about “not the time to talk” or “knee-jerk react” … your Facebook and Twitter memes and gifs … your incoherent, misspelled ALL CAPS rants calling liberals stupid … and all the deflective and diversionary tactics in your gun-loving playbook when a new mass gun tragedy happens.

Take a moment to look — one by one — at the pictures of the 17 Florida school kids and staff killed and 14 others wounded by a disturbed former classmate who bought his AR-15 assault weapon easily and legally. Thanks to you.

Done? Good. Now consider this: Maybe you have a little blood on your hands.

Sorry. Maybe that’s a little strong. Beg your pardon.

But there’s no question your proud, stubborn, defensive, selfish, angry, paranoid, fanatical and tragically misguided opposition to common-sense gun laws makes you at least a little complicit.

And let’s cut the bull: If assault weapons were illegal, of course criminals might still get them illegally. But this disturbed Florida kid would not be walking into the local Sunrise Tactical Supply and shopping for an AR-15 to stalk the hallways of his old school and slaughter former classmates, teachers and coaches.

You’re like a child who wants a cookie, and is just learning logic and reason, grasping for any argument, however ridiculous, to justify why he should have that cookie.

With every new assault weapon tragedy, you look for new excuses. For this one, you might blame law enforcement, which you normally support (Blue Lives Matter!) for missing the warnings. I get it — you need to blame anything but the gun. The somehow holy infallible gun.

I love my car, too, but my car and I apparently have a healthier relationship.

But you’re right about one thing, assault-weapon defenders: Guns don’t kill people. People do.

That’s right. Mass gun murders are caused by people. Not just the shooters.

It’s also people who are outraged by the “Washington swamp” — except when it comes to multimillionaire gun lobbyists who walk through the revolving door from Congress to K Street and prevent the vast majority of Americans, including Republicans and moderates, from getting the sensible gun laws they want.

And it’s people who sneer that Congress is corrupt, bought by special interests — except it’s fine when the NRA buys the congressmen. Led by lifetime recipients John McCain ($7.7 million), Richard Burr ($6.9 million), Roy Blunt ($4.5 million), Tom Tillis ($4.4 million), Cory Gardner ($3.8 million), and yes, Florida’s Marco Rubio ($3.3 million).

It’s also people who scoff at responsible views like those of Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich, who said, “If you’re a strong Second Amendment person, you need to slow down and take a look at reasonable things that can be done to answer these young people.”

Gun mass murders are caused by people who make it easier for disturbed people to kill 60 people in 60 seconds. Easier than it is to legally buy and drive a car.

It’s people who let Congress allow the 1994–2004 federal assault weapons ban to die. Even though it reduced mass killings and somehow never led to the gun lobby’s “slippery slope” scare tactic to fool the foolable about government agents seizing all guns as an American Hitler rises up and rounds up and locks up citizens. Really, people? That’s your thing?

The people who let the assault weapon ban die are the same people who, even after last October’s carnage in Las Vegas, let Congress kill proposals to ban bump stocks and other devices that turn semi-automatic weapons into illegal machine guns. And before that, let President Trump kill a ban on gun purchases by the mentally ill and also roll back healthcare coverage for mental illness. And then propose a budget that rolls back Medicaid coverage for mental illness.

These are the same people who claim that gun mass murders are not caused by guns preferred by mass murderers — the problem is mental illness.

Trump just asked his people at the Justice Department to propose regulations to ban bump stocks and “all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns.” Good. But we’ll see if the NRA-bought Congress acts or lets the ban die as always.

No, guns don’t kill people.

It’s people who claim “the instrument of attack is not the problem” and compare assault weapons to cars, knives, pistols or even overindulgence in food and alcohol that can kill people — ignoring that Camrys, Coors and cuisine are not designed to kill and can’t sneak in and shoot up a school. Or fire 1,100 rounds in 10 minutes, killing 58 people and injuring 851 from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel and across a huge parking lot into a crowd of innocent crowd of concertgoers.

(And by gun-fanatic logic, if the device is innocent, then why ban machine guns, or for that matter, a civilian version of the M32 personal semi-automatic grenade launcher? A surface-to-air missile? An ICBM?)

Guns alone never killed anyone.

It’s people who consider themselves critical thinkers, truth tellers and BS-callers, and snark on Facebook or Twitter about liberals being sheep, yet blindly follow and re-bleat what the NRA and its $4 million annually paid CEO Wayne LaPierre say while attacking other views, however reasonable.

It’s people who let themselves be suckers, patsies or stooges — pick your term — for multi-millionaire gun executives from Colt, Smith & Wesson and other AR-15 and equivalent makers, the .001% who finance and hide anonymously behind the NRA and watch the news of the latest assault weapon tragedy from their private jets and lavish third vacation homes.

It’s people who are self-styled Constitutional scholars when it comes to the Founders’ intent in the Second Amendment — but ignore the critical part about the armed militia being well regulated. Not a bunch of silly Duck Dynasty weekend warriors in cheap surplus Army-Navy cammo play-acting boyhood fantasies or delusions of fighting tyranny.

Many of the same people, when asked, have no idea about the rest of the Constitution and how it sets up our system of government. Only one in four Americans can name our three co-equal branches of government. (And yes, Mr. Trump and Ms. Sanders: The press is supposed to challenge authority to protect us from tyranny — not boot lick the president like Fox & Friends does. Our Founders knew the boot you lick winds up on your neck.)

(That’s how tyranny starts.)

True patriots arm against tyranny to protect our nation — but not with assault weapons.

Many assault weapon defenders are proud to call themselves the truest patriots. Even if they don’t vote, can’t name their governor or congressman, and complain about taxes and government but — like in many red states — depend on government and receive far more in taxpayer support than they’ll ever pay. And more per capita than in blue states.

Some think patriotism is mouthing the Pledge of Allegiance while slamming their fellow Americans who exercise their Constitutional right not to.

But our Founders gave us much better weapons to protect ourselves and our democracy than AR-15 semiautomatic combat-style assault rifles with 100-round magazines: Free speech. Rule of law. Due process. Equal rights. The vote. Etc.

If you don’t believe that, if you prefer arming with assault weapons instead of using the weapons of peaceable democracy our Founders gave us, then you’re not a patriot. Quite the opposite: You’re a threat to our democracy and nation.

I don’t think assault-weapons defenders are bad people. Just a little self-centered.

It’s part of the trend of Me pluribus unum — where we ask what our country should do for us, not vice versa.

For the gun maker and the NRA, it’s about money. Everyone likes money.

For the gun lover who defends the freedom to buy a combat-grade rifle and large capacity magazine, I think it’s a self-righteous hobby with the illusion of self-protection.

Neither the gun maker nor gun lover wants to give up even the deadliest weapons. Even if that might — just might — make it a little harder for the next sad, angry or deranged guy to gun down a lot of innocent people and children quickly.

So no, guns don’t kill people. People who don’t care about other people do.

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer

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