June 18, 1999 (Ira Pilgrim)

The National Rifle Association

Guns don't kill people; people kill people.

Slogan of the National Rifle Association

The NRA should consider changing its name to the NRPMGA, to stand for the National Rifle Pistol Machine Gun Association. What used to be a fraternity of people who were interested in guns, it is now one of the most powerful political action groups in the nation. Its objectives seem to be to have everyone own a gun, or preferably a lot of guns, and to prevent any legislation to restrict the ownership of guns.

The slogan of the NRA is "Guns don't kill people; people kill people." This is nonsense. One might also say that automobiles, knives, or machetes don't kill people, people kill people. That is true, and irrelevant. The big difference between all of these things is that guns, in contrast to automobiles, knives or machetes, are specifically designed to kill. Aside from their use in target shooting, they are for killing. Their legitimate use is killing animals for food, in fighting wars and for use by law enforcement. Their criminal use is in committing lethal, or potentially lethal, crimes. A number of people die accidentally from gunshot.

We do know that before England was Americanized, neither the police nor the criminals carried guns. As a consequence, few people were killed by criminals and the police.

If we believe the movies, in the old west, many men wore hand guns. Until the wearing of guns was limited, there was lots of mayhem committed with them. So far as I know, there are no statistics available as to how many people got shot.

Another argument used by the NRA is that if everyone had a hand gun, thieves would be reluctant to rob them at gunpoint. The NRA has no data to back up that argument. The fact is that having a gun in your pocket isn't going to help you one bit if someone is pointing a gun at you. It might help if what they were pointing at you was a finger. The intelligent thing to do if you are held up at gunpoint is to hand over your money. That is, unless you consider your money more valuable than your life, in which case you should reach for your gun. The fact that the police are armed doesn't seem to have stopped people from killing them.

There is little doubt in my mind that a gun in the possession of a law abiding expert is accident-safe. He will only kill someone if he intends to. I am equally certain, that a gun in the hands of a person who doesn't know how to handle it is a danger to that person and to the people around him/her.

Many people have moments of insanity, particularly during their childhood and adolescence. Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet illustrates how insane two pubescent kids can be. They fall madly in love with each other at a first glance and end up committing suicide. If that's not nutty, I don't know what is. But it is romantic nuttiness. If you look back at your past, you are almost sure to find times when you were crazy. Of course Romeo and Juliet would have recovered from their craziness if they had stayed married to each other for a while, or if Romeo had needed a prescription to get his poison and Juliet hadn't had a convenient dagger.

The NRA's purpose, as is the purpose of almost all organizations, is to survive and go on supporting the people who work for the organization. Their executives are, I assume, well paid. The financial support for the organization has to be an immense amount of money considering how much they spend on lobbying and bribing politicians.

Danger to everyone increased when automatic and semi-automatic weapons became readily available. These lethal toys have no legitimate purpose other than for real or imagined crime. The game used to be "bang, bang, you're dead." Now it's "Ratatattat, you're all dead."

If something is said often enough, many people will believe it. This principle of propaganda has been called "the big lie." It doesn't matter how ridiculous it is, large numbers of people will believe it. The NRA's slogan, "Guns don't kill people; people kill people," is ridiculous. The fact is that guns do kill people, and people can kill people much more easily with a gun than with a knife.

There are two things that we are all agreed upon. First is that killing innocent people is bad and should, if possible, be prevented. Second, that guns are used by people to kill people as well as game. If the NRA slogan was correct, we wouldn't have those problems if we just got rid of the people. If we put enough guns into the hands of enough people, that objective just might be achieved.

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