Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 8:48 pm | Fair 57º

 
 
 
 
Public Safety

Karen Telleen-Lawton: Yes, Guns Do Kill People (Part 1)

Why has it taken so long to get serious about a largely preventable problem causing an average of 36 U.S. deaths daily? School children, domestic violence crime victims and Americans going about their daily lives all succumb to bullets.

I believe this literal death spiral of public health and safety is the direct legacy of actions by the National Rifle Association.

The powerful lobby of the NRA generates myths and misinformation, promulgating these untruths using absurd amounts of cash to abort the will of the majority.

The Joyce Foundation is a Midwest-based nonprofit which analyzes current social problems and informs public policy decisions. They have gathered some of these myths, building a fact base to counter each.

Here are some of the common myths spread by the NRA:

» There is decreasing public support for policy solutions to curb gun violence.

» All we need to do is enforce the laws already on the books.

» Stand-your-ground laws are needed so citizens can defend themselves.

» Guns don’t kill people — people kill people.

» America’s gun laws don’t work.

» Gun ownership is on the rise, and guns are everywhere.

» If someone had a gun at the scene of a mass shooting, tragedy could have been prevented.

» The Second Amendment is a barrier to stronger gun laws.

If you visit the Joyce Foundation website, you’ll find ample evidence to refute each of these myths.

For instance, research shows 85 percent of Americans support expanding required background checks on all potential gun buyers. You’ll find existing gun laws have numerous gaps and loopholes but that federal enforcement action on guns has been shackled by the actions of the gun lobby.

Notwithstanding recent efforts to pass stand-your-ground laws, the right to self defense is a longstanding part of our common law.

In insisting on facts, you’ll find that it is not a hopeless cause to believe we can move beyond the senseless violence. Increasingly, we have the will and we can find the way.

One organization that just found that will is the National Basketball Association.

It’s not often that professional sports organizations lend their stars’ brand and prestige to public service ads, but the NBA has done just that, partnering an advertising campaign with the NRA’s upstart counterpart, Everytown for Gun Safety (EGS).

Although the phrase “gun control” is never mentioned in the ads, EGS, founded by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, works at the federal, state and local level to expand background checks for gun buyers, strengthen penalties for gun trafficking and ban gun sales to people convicted of domestic abuse.

Another hopeful sign comes from Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, who is challenging the gun lobby in California.

“Their home court is legislative chambers across the country,” says Newsom. “I think they’re very vulnerable in public. They can intimidate the politicians, but I don’t think they can intimidate the public.”

Newsom, who is planning a run for governor in 2018, proposes a statewide ban on possession — not just sales — of high capacity ammunition magazines and wants to require instant background checks for every ammunition purchase.

Maybe, just maybe, San Bernardino may challenge the apathy that has surrounded this issue for too long.

If these hopeful signs or the challenging myths inspire you to action, you’ll want to stay tuned for my next column, where I’ll present some of the solutions that are gaining traction.

— Karen Telleen-Lawton’s column is a mélange of observations spanning sustainability from the environment to finance, economics and justice issues. She is a fee-only financial advisor (www.DecisivePath.com) and a freelance writer (www.CanyonVoices.com). Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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