Guns Don’t Kill People!

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association insists that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” (1)

Every time there is a new mass killing in the United States, LaPierre and the NRA go into overtime defending the right of almost anyone to own almost any type of weapon and to preach their gospel that the gun is never responsible and curtailment of anyone’s right to acquire that gun is almost never permissible.

He says the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution supports his view without reservation.

In the wake of the Las Vegas mass killings (as I write  a record number), let’s talk about that.

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

Yes, human beings kill other human beings. We strangle each other, we use a hammer, a knife, poison, a gun and you name it. Our ability to think up  deadly ways to kill another human appears to be unlimited. But mostly we use guns.

It was a gun that killed all those people in Las Vegas. Bullets from a gun.

True, except in rare circumstances, it does require a human to pull the trigger.  Otherwise, the gun just sits there as benign as a tooth brush.

But wait, let’s consider the tooth brush.

I mean, let’s say I get so angry with you that I want to kill you or something snaps in my brain and I want to kill you . If all I have in my hand is a tooth brush and I point it at you and pull backward on the bristle, you will walk away without a scratch.

But if  I have a loaded gun and pull the trigger, you may drop dead instantly.  I was the “agent” that put the gun in play but it was the gun that killed you.

LaPierre and I agree that to the extent we can identify potential human “killers” (those mentally ill for instance)  steps should be taken to prevent them from pulling a trigger.

But what about others who can’t readily be so identified?

Shouldn’t we take reasonable steps to control use of the second half of the deadly equation – the gun itself?

For instance, let’s toughen the requirements for background checks on gun buyers.

Polling released by the liberal Center for American Progress found that 83 percent of gun owners nationally support criminal background checks on all sales of firearms, while only 14 percent of gun owners oppose them. There is strong bipartisan agreement on the issue, with 90 percent of Democrat and 81 percent of Republican gun owners in support of background checks. Additionally, 72 percent of NRA members support them.

But LaPierre who has given only grudgingly support for background checks said two years ago that it is an “absolute fallacy” that tougher “checks” are needed.

And as far as any restrictions on the type of gun itself, why LaPierre is unequivocally opposed to any meaningful restriction on their sale. Not on so-called “cop killer” bullets, not on a tougher restriction on the sale of “silencers,” not on reinstatement of the lapsed ban on the sale of assault rifles (the kind used in the Vegas and other recent mass killings).

Hunters do  not need such military assault rifles to kill dear or elk or, for that matter, African Lions. Such weapons are made to kill human beings but LaPierre argues that to ban them is a slippery slope toward the banning and confiscation of all firearms.


But he seems convinced that any move to keep them out of the hands of private citizens is an impermissible infringement on the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.

Let’s look at that Amendment and what motivated the Founders who wrote the Constitution to believe it important.

The Founders had just come through a bloody, bitter war with the British. They won that war not with a standing army – the Colonists had none to begin with – but with citizen-soldiers who brought their own muskets, augmented with canon and some other types of weapons to form an army.

The Founders thought that repelling future attack from abroad as well as the need to turn back a domestic insurrection might well also require the mobilization of citizen-soldiers who would have to bring their own, personal weapons once again. How, do we know this was the Founder’s motive?

Read the beginning of the 2nd Amendment:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”

The founders did not say something like “Citizen needs for hunting or personal security in their houses or on the streets or for recreational or any other purpose…..”

No, they wrote “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State (Itals added) the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

And what did they think was “Arms?”  Muskets, muzzle loaders, percussion cap pistols, in short the weapons with which they were familiar. But today, the word “Arms” applies to machine guns, assault rifles of every kind, hand grenades, rockets, and by extension weapon systems like the “Stinger Missile” system, designed to bring down aircraft. The Atomic Cannon?

Does anyone in their right mind think that the Founders had they known about those weapons  would have written words that would allow any private citizen to buy and possess a Stinger Missile system?

Yes, my friends, people pull the trigger and to the extent in a free society we can find and curtail them from doing so in a harmful way, well and good. But the triggers are on guns and without them, fare fewer people would die.

Last year, 15,079 Americans died from gun violence. We could just accept the deaths.

Or we can take additional steps to curtail the indiscriminate and wanton use of firearms by people who evidence suggests shouldn’t have them and with weapons that are more powerful than necessary for ordinary, peaceful use.

(1) In order to weigh my own motive for writing this article, readers should know that Wayne LaPierre twice urged the management of ABC News to fire me.

He said I was not “unbiased” as a reporter should be when it came to publicly taking sides in the fight over “gun control.” He cited the fact that on two occasions I had acted as Master of Ceremonies for a dinner of the Brady Foundation, an organization which supports gun control.

I was standing five and a half feet away from John Hinckley, Jr., when he shot Ronald Reagan and three other people, one of whom was James Brady, Reagan’s press secretary.

And LaPierre is right. Although I tried to keep by views out of my work as a straight reporter,  I was happy as an individual to show my support for Brady and his Foundation’s objective.

And I make no apology for doing that.



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