If you've spent even 30 seconds over over the past couple of weeks since the shooting of US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords ( who was just successfully moved to intensive care at Texas Medical Center) thinking about gun control, you owe it to yourself to read this fine article by Gerald Caplan in yesterday's Toronto Globe and Mail.
It's such a great piece, I wish I'd written it myself. Here are the first two paragraphs...
"Why is the United States so much more violent than Canada?
Canadians receive, even welcome, violence-based American mass culture pumped out 24/7 by the mammoth entertainment industry. Yet our society remains dramatically less violent than theirs. Take guns.
"The United States has by far the highest gun homicide rate in the industrialized world. In a study of 23 of these nations, the American rate was nearly 20 times higher than the others. Some 100,000 shootings take place in the U.S. every year, 30,000 of them fatal. In Canada, with about one-tenth the U.S. population, 190 people were killed by guns in 2006. More than a million Americans have died from gun violence, whether by murders, suicides or accidents, since Martin Luther King was gunned down in 1968."
Caplan goes on to remind us that the NRA's annual budget is $307 million and represents some 4 million members. The pernicious effect of this group's power, according to Caplan:
"Here’s the paradox you need to grasp about the NRA: Its ferocious opposition to any form of gun control is motivated precisely by the American orgy of gun violence. Because of this violence, it will maintain its relentless pressure for government to eliminate (except for children) literally every possible constraint on owning and carrying guns – and the deadlier the gun, better."
Gun violence in America: how can anyone believe that MORE guns make people safer? Aren't 300 million guns enough, if that strategy made any sense at all?
Perhaps this is all because the US public school system has failed to instill critical thinking in its students and graduates.
Or maybe it's the relentless marketing of violence and guns in the movies and other media, the 'product placement' most of us seem to ignore. Weapons are among the biggest of US--and world, especially permanent members of the UN Security Council--business.
This is not just about the NRA...it's about the corruption of the political process.
Gerry Caplan is a Canadian academic, public policy analyst, commentator and political activist. He has worked in academia, as a political organizer for the New Democratic Party, an education advocate, in broadcasting and African affairs and as a commentator in various Canadian media. He was educated at the University of Toronto and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, which accorded him a doctorate in African history, according to Wikipedia.
Beverly Akerman is a Montreal writer; her first collection of short fiction, The Meaning of Children, will soon be released by Exile Editions.