With all the whoopla about the constitutional “right to bear arms”, the economic influence of the firearms industry can be easily overlooked.
It’s clouded by those declaring their God given right to possess any kind of firearm, and in endless numbers, free of government interference or oversight. They are defended by lawmakers who use the vague term “law abiding citizens” to hide the fact that their campaigns are generously funded by those who support the distorted view of the Second Amendment.
The push behind the Second Amendment rights argument is all smoke-and-mirrors. It is meant to prop up weapons’ manufacturers by convincing gullible gun owners that their possession is constitutionally protected while duping them into buying more firearms by repeating the lie that some nefarious elements of a shadowy deep state, namely those pesky, peace-loving Liberals, are out to get their guns.
The primary driver behind this push for more firearms is the National Rifle Association. It’s emergence as a powerful political entity has resulted in far more latitude given to gun owners as a more Conservative judicial system looks the other way despite the growing danger of their faulty interpretation of the Second Amendment.
And it’s not just the average gun dealers raking in the bucks. The lion’s share belongs to the military/industrial complex that comprises the defense industry. While lawmakers can validly claim that defense spending amounts to only 10 percent of the national budget, it accounts to almost 50 percent of what is known as “discretionary spending”. This is funding for various defense programs, both military and non-military that accounts for more than half of America’s annual budget, and does not include spending for veterans’ programs, which are a budget item unto themselves.
So, when it comes to the economy, there’s gold in them there bullets!
America’s Gun Culture
If there is one thing most Americans can agree upon, it’s that we have a gun problem. Numerous mass casualty incidents have left scores of Americans, many of them school-aged children, dead as a result of the staggering amount of firearms in our country. There are more guns in America than there are people and many agree that it’s a problem.
Unfortunately, the solutions are as far apart as those who oppose firearms as those who own them. On the one side there are those who want stricter regulations on the type of weapons the average American should be allowed to own. They want more stringent background checks, elimination of loopholes many use to skirt the law or purchase guns illegally and a limit on the types of firearms, as well as the kind and amount of ammunition that should be allowed.
Those who want unlimited access to firearms think the solution is to have more guns. Arming teachers and “a good guy with a gun” would be how they would address America’s gun problem. They reason that more guns would both dissuade attackers the same way the death penalty is supposed to reduce crime, or it would allow another armed individual to take down any potential shooter, reducing, or even eliminating the number of casualties.
Enter the National Rifle Association into the fray. This once noble organization, which espoused gun safety and training, is now at the forefront of protecting Second Amendment rights. Instead of promoting gun safety, it is spreading the distortion of the Constitution to argue for unlimited access to almost any kind of lethal weapon.
Using its enormous political influence, the NRA has prevented any type of reasonable gun control legislation from being passed. Instead, every time there is a mass casualty shooting, they use their political leverage to control the narrative. Their pawns in Congress will deflect by further stigmatizing the mentally ill.
They also have a bipartisan approach to addressing America’s gun problem. If a Republican is in office, they will encourage gun owners to buy more as a way of exercising their Second Amendment rights. If it’s a Democrat in charge, they will spread the oft repeated lie that Dems are out to get your guns, creating a paranoia that gun owners need to buy more before their rights are taken away.
In any other country, the NRA could rightfully be labeled a terrorist organization. But here in the good old U S of A, they are called a patriotic group, aimed at preserving Constitutional rights that were established 250 years ago.
Bullets Over Books
Any time there is a school shooting there is a typical, well-rehearsed response from the right. As previously mentioned, they attack the mentally ill, as if wanting to own mass quantities of firearms isn’t a sign of mental illness in itself. Next is the cry to “harden schools” by making it more difficult to enter, demanding parents purchase clear backpacks, installing metal detectors, arming teachers and hiring school resource officers to monitor any potential threats.
Mandatory Active Shooter Drills are now part of every school’s routine, in addition to the numerous other demands placed upon classroom teachers. Cowering in place or hiding under desks in hopes a shooter will bypass a seemingly empty classroom has been replaced by the “run, hide, fight” approach which can result in students scattering, with no way to tell if they are safe or one of the victims until after the event is over.
Yet, those on the right think these fear-inducing drills are far less traumatic than learning accurate history or being aware of alternative lifestyles. So, while they are encouraging siphoning already meager school funds to support their distorted Second Amendment rights, they are also calling for banning books that may make a child “uncomfortable”. They claim that banning certain versions of history, as well as certain books, they are protecting children from “woke indoctrination” and instilling them with proper American values.
In their warped minds banning books is more important than banning bullets.
The right isn’t opposed to indoctrination. In fact, they wholeheartedly support it, so long as it’s the kind that agrees with their own narrow-minded vision of America. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and taking part in archaic religious rituals before they have the ability to comprehend their meanings are forms of indoctrination that have been practiced for centuries. Yet, no one on the right has any issue with forcing school-aged children from taking part in them.
Their rationale is that by banning certain books, it means they won’t be exposed to grasping a past where White men enslaved people of color and the Civil Rights Movement was meant to promote equality. Instead, they are to believe the language of White Supremacy, that America is a Christian nation and those who follow other beliefs are evil, and that the Bible is meant to be interpreted literally, depending on whose interpretation you are told to believe.
Meanwhile, the money keeps rolling in as the body counts keep rising.
Lawyers, Guns and Money
As the famous song by Warren Zevon suggests, the solution to any problem can be solved with three elements: Lawyers, guns and money. It’s a formula the gun lobby has discovered when faced with any sort of backlash following a mass casualty shooting. Thanks to unnamed corporate donors, the NRA has an army of lawyers tasked with the sole duty that any challenges to their might never see the light of day, much less the inside of a courtroom.
While the United States has been a nation for the past 250 years, it wasn’t until the past 25 that it became a land of gun-toting vigilantes. With the Heller decision in 2008, the Supreme Court effectively negated the “well-regulated militia” language of the Second Amendment, opening the door to unfettered access to an unlimited amount of firearms to pretty much anyone.
Since the Heller decision, more than 1,300 people have died in mass casualty shootings up until 2021. Despite this, Conservative courts and lawmakers are making access to firearms even easier. A recent court ruling declared that those under an Order of Protection due to domestic violence could not be deprived of their Second Amendment rights. Lawmakers In Missouri refused to put an age limit on how young someone should be to be allowed to carry a firearm. And then there is the new right wing darling, Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted of the cold blooded murder of two men during recent Black Lives Matter protests.
There appears to be no end to the proliferation of firearms in America.
The Military/Industrial Complex
Ask anyone from another country what comes to mind when they think of America. Freedom and Democracy would surely top the list, but they would also most likely include military might. Military spending accounts for a little over 10 percent of the national budget, but over 50 percent of discretionary spending, those tax dollars not subject to government oversight. As a nation, America spends three times as much on defense as its closest competitor, China.
Part of this large expenditure goes into weapon’s development. The Civil War witnessed the development of the repeating rifle and the Gatling gun. Mechanized warfare and aerial combat were the result of innovations made during World War I. Tanks, aircraft carriers and the jet age were introduced during World War II, along with the dawn of what became the Space Age, as German research into rocketry saw advances in launching lethal projectiles from afar. And of course, there was the development of the Atomic bomb as the Manhattan Project sought a doomsday weapon to bring a swift end to the war with Japan, ushering in the Atomic Age.
Each of these inventions have remained largely in the purview of the military, with the exception of easily transported firearms. The Arms Race with the former Soviet Union resulted in not only more enhanced weapons systems, but also in more lethal firearms. Most military experts agree these should remain as tactical instruments for trained military personnel.
That hasn’t prevented Second Amendment advocates, Conservative judges and lawmakers and the NRA from demanding more and more deadly weapons be made available to the general public. As more states allow unlicensed open carry, it is becoming more dangerous for the average person to venture outside without “packing”.
And the beat goes on.
Follow the Money
As a greater variety of firearms becomes available there is the corresponding increase in profits. More profits leads to greater production as the cycle continues. A national shield law, called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, prevents these firearms from being held legally responsible for any harm caused by the lethal weapons they produce.
This also gives lawmakers cover as they can continue to call those involved in mass casualty shootings “law abiding citizens”. According to the twisted ways the laws are written, most shooters have yet to break the law until they commit their heinous crimes.
Lobbyists will continue to use their financial influence to ensure more Conservative judges are elected, and eventually appointed to lifelong post on the Federal bench. Backed by the all powerful, and shockingly tax-exempt, NRA, these lobbyists have prevented any meaningful restrictions to firearms since the lapse of Bill Clinton’s Assault Weapons Ban in 2004. Even the seemingly all Great and Powerful Oz, Donald Trump, caved into NRA demands after he had promised action following the Parkland school shootings.
Until political corruption is replaced by common sense, there will continue to be gun violence in America. Let’s hope we aren’t the next victims,