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home : opinion : opinion February 5, 2016

3/12/2013 11:43:00 AM
Editorial NRA subverting U.S. Constitution

A writer recently accused me of wanting to take away the freedom to bear arms, saying, "I have no right to take away your freedom to speak, as you have no right to take away my freedom to bear arms. It is all very simple."

Actually, it isn't simple at all.

I grew up reading Sports Afield, Outdoor Life and Field and Stream magazines back in the 1950's. There were frequent fictional stories about the threat of the government taking away the right to bear arms. It's been 60+ years since I read the first of those paranoid diatribes, but in all those years I've never heard anyone else propose taking away the right to bear arms, and I have absolutely never proposed doing it myself. But...

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has spent tens (possibly hundreds) of millions of dollars subverting the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of the right to freedom of speech, my freedom of speech as well as that of every other American.

Arthur Kellermann was an emergency room physician who noticed a trend among gunshot victims he was treating and began keeping records. He found that among patients in his emergency room, gunshot victims were 43 times as likely to be shot by their own gun or an gun belonging to a member of the family than to be shot by non-household gun. He did a series of broader studies in association with Emory University and found that in every study a gun in the home was many times more likely to wound, cripple or kill a family member than an intruder.

As a result of Kellermann's research, the NRA began a campaign to get Emory University to discredit his research and disassociate itself from him. It also began a national campaign to get state and federal laws passed that forbid research into any association between firearm ownership and firearm injuries and deaths. The Centers for Disease Control have been expressly forbidden to spend any funds on such research.

The NRA wants people to believe that criminals with illegally obtained firearms and the mentally ill who shouldn't be allowed to own firearms are the problem causing the tragic deaths of 30,000+ and the crippling of 100,000+ Americans every year. It knows that if the real facts were to come out, people would know just how badly the NRA has been deceiving them.

The NRA has successfully gotten laws passed that prevent the public, including the media, from being informed when a licensed concealed carry weapon is used to commit a crime. It does this because what studies have been done have found permit holders are more likely to commit a crime involving a firearm than are members of the general public.

I've been involved in journalism for 45+ years in several communities across the U.S. Every one of those years in every area where I have lived there have been firearm tragedies, not a single one of which involved an illegally obtained weapon. There have been homicides, suicides and accidents and all of them of which I am aware involved weapons owned by a family member. I've read about armed robberies where someone was shot, but even in those cases not all the weapons were illegally obtained.

I challenge our readers to try and remember a firearms tragedy that didn't involve a firearm belonging to a family member.

Dr. Kellerman, as a result of the tragic firearms cases coming into his emergency room, wanted changes in firearms laws. Among the kinds of changes he proposed was a simple magazine safety that would prevent a firearm from discharging accidentally when there is no magazine in the weapon and the weapon is believed to be empty of ammunition. He never proposed taking away the Second Amendment right to bear arms. He just wanted to have laws changed to make homes safer when there are firearms in those homes.

For Dr. Kellermann's efforts, the NRA tried to disrupt his career.

Whenever anyone attempts any action to make life safer around firearms, the NRA starts shouting "Second Amendment violation" and too many people listen to the shouting without listening to what is being shouted about.

I have never proposed repealing the Second Amendment right to bear arms but I did propose gathering data on how many people are wounded, crippled and killed each year in the U.S., the related information about how each tragedy happened and whether there was anything we could have done as a nation to prevent the tragedy. We need to know the truth about the relationship between firearm ownership and firearm tragedies; we need to know the truth about the relationship between concealed carry permits and firearm crimes; we need to know the truth about the effectiveness of firearm safety programs.

We cannot prevent every tragedy, but we can prevent some. The question is, how do we prevent as many firearms injuries and deaths as possible? To answer the question, we need as much information as possible, information the NRA spends heavily to prevent us from getting.

Why is the NRA so dead set against Americans getting good factual information about firearms safety?

It appears to be that the NRA benefits financially from preventing any action that might reduce the number of people injured, crippled and killed, because it presents those efforts to its members as attempts to undermine the Second Amendment, and member money flows in. As long as its members continue to listen to that nonsense and send money, there will be no real progress in addressing firearm safety until the rest of us get involved.

Solving the problem is anything but simple.

Larry Dobson

Claremont Service

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