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Opinion

America desperately needs commonsense gun reform

Apr 07, 2023

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Dr. Rashad Richey

National TV Political Analyst, Talk Radio Host, Univ. Prof.

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The deadly school shooting in Nashville on March 27 sparked outrage from parents and politicians, as well as protests at the Tennessee Capitol. What it did not do is move the needle on Congress passing new gun reform legislation. The partisan divide on gun laws remains one of the most polarizing issues in the only country with more civilian-owned guns than civilians. Straight Arrow News contributor Rashad Richey says America desperately needs commonsense gun reform laws, and points out that most people support new restrictions.

A recent poll shows clearly from ABC/Ipsos, that 66% of people actually favored new gun laws in America. And depending on the polling that you’re looking at, this number is always between 65 to 75%. That is massive. In this political culture, 65 to 75% of Americans agreeing on something is a big deal. They agree we need stricter gun reform policy. It doesn’t stop there.

In addition to that, the vast majority of members of the NRA — National Rifle Association — they also believe we need stricter gun policies by way of a universal background check. Over 70% of active, right now, NRA members are for universal background checks. Common sense, right? Who’s against it? So the majority of Americans are for it. If the majority of members of the NRA are for it, if the majority of gun owners are for it, which by the way, 88% of gun owners are for universal background checks, who is against it? Are the politicians against it? Or is there something else? 

The answer is both. The politicians are against it. I’m talking about conservatives mainly, because of something else. See, there was a time the NRA actually was a good organization that stood for a Constitutional right that needed to be protected: your right to bear arms. The NRA is no longer that organization. They are in the business not of listening to leadership in their membership ranks but listening to the leadership in the corporate ranks. I’m talking about those that manufacture guns. You see, the NRA is a de facto advocacy organization for gun makers. And they are effective. So much so, that gun manufacturers, they have special laws that govern them — special laws that create immunity from prosecution, from liability. They are a different type of company, contextualized through statute in the United States of America.

Okay, let’s talk about guns in America and let’s talk about it authentically. You know, there are other nations, some communist nations, other socialist nations, they actually have legislated out gun violence. You rarely hear any sentiment about gun violence in some other nations. These are developed nations, industrial nations, but through policy legislation and culture, they do not have mass shootings, they do not have extreme gun violence. A big part of that is because people do not have the level of access to the weaponry. 

You have more guns than people in the United States of America, way more ammunition than population in the United States of America. Let’s talk about the reality of what people actually think. A recent poll shows clearly from ABC/Ipsos, that 66% of people actually favored new gun laws in America. And depending on the polling that you’re looking at, this number is always between 65 to 75%. That is massive. In this political culture, 65 to 75% of Americans agreeing on something is a big deal. They agree we need stricter gun reform policy. It doesn’t stop there.

In addition to that, the vast majority of members of the NRA — National Rifle Association — they also believe we need stricter gun policies by way of a universal background check. Over 70% of active, right now, NRA members are for universal background checks. Common sense, right? Who’s against it? So the majority of Americans are for it. If the majority of members of the NRA are for it, if the majority of gun owners are for it, which by the way, 80% of gun owners are for universal background checks, who is against it? Are the politicians against it? Or is there something else? 

The answer is both. The politicians are against it. I’m talking about conservatives mainly, because of something else. See, there was a time the NRA actually was a good organization that stood for a constitutional right that needed to be protected: Your right to bear arms. The NRA is no longer that organization. They are in the business not of listening to leadership in their membership ranks, but listening to the leadership in the corporate ranks. I’m talking about those that manufacture guns. You see, the NRA is a de facto advocacy organization for gun makers. And they are effective. So much so, that gun manufacturers, they have special laws that govern them; special laws that create immunity from prosecution, from liability. They are a different type of company, contextualized through statute in the United States of America. 

That means the NRA has been an effective ally at saying no to the members, yes to the corporations. The reason I bring this to you front and center is because when we talk about the Second Amendment, please understand, yes, you have the right to bear arms. You also have freedom of speech.  You have a lot of rights. Every right comes with a responsibility. There is no such thing as a right without a responsibility. 

You have freedom of speech? That’s a right you cannot utilize that speech criminally. You will be penalized by the government, criminally or civilly. You will have a penalty. You have the right to bear arms. That right comes with a noted responsibility, as well. Why do we never call … we have never called, your speech having common sense regulation, speech control. We’ve never said that. If a person yells fire in a crowded building, there’s no fire, people are injured … that person can actually get charged with a crime and also have significant civil liability. That is a control so to speak on your freedom of speech, right? Nobody calls it speech control. That is the very reason we have to reject the language of gun control. It’s not gun control. It’s common sense. It’s normative. It is the statutory process in the United States of America. 

And for those who are saying, “Well, anybody should have a gun.” Gun gun gun. Guns are not your answer. But if you really believe that, if you really believe that the only way we can actually progress as a society is if everybody has a gun, or everyone is allowed to carry guns anywhere they choose, what happens to rule of law? What happens to a hot-tempered argument? What happens when a young person is acting in an immature way and they have access to a weapon? 

The restriction element worked. Look at what happened when we had the temporary assault weapons ban. You had a decrease, a significant decrease, in the number of deaths and the number of instances. 

Why does this not compute? Corporations have muddied the water.

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