American Moms Versus Guns

May 2, 2014 6:39 am Last Updated: May 2, 2014 9:44 am

The signing of a law by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to make the state one of the most gun-friendly places on the planet has provoked considerable concern among those who want to see an end to unnecessary deaths from gun violence in America. The law allows the presence of guns in bars, churches, and even outside the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security cordon at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International airport, an extremely busy transportation connecting point.

As abuse of guns continues to exact a heavy toll on the population, a group of mothers, One Million Moms for Gun Control, is fighting the influence of the gun lobby and its supporters, and may even win the battle. They want to counteract the pro-gun rhetoric of the National Rifle Association (NRA) chief Wayne LaPierre. At his organization’s last meeting in Indianapolis, LaPierre urged NRA’s supporters to “stand and fight” for gun rights.

LaPierre also told backers that only their guns and their contributions to the NRA can protect them from murderers, liberals, and the actions of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg has recently donated $50 million to groups like Mayors Against Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. LaPierre drew a picture of a crumbling America with declining values, killers, and rapists to support his argument that guns are always needed.

“There are terrorists and home invaders and drug cartels and carjackers and knockout gamers and rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, road-rage killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse the society that sustains us all,” he stated at the meeting.

LaPierre didn’t mention that the widespread availability of guns in the United States is one of the reasons for all the ills that he so carefully depicted. He insisted, however, that, “The NRA has become a metaphor for the core American freedoms that we all want preserved.”

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre speaks during the NRA Annual Meeting Leadership Forum in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 25, 2014. (John Gress/Getty Images)

LaPierre’s rosy assessment of his organization is not shared by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group made up of survivors of gun violence, which tries to bring a common-sense approach to the issue of gun ownership.

In a report titled “Not Your Grandparents’ NRA,” Everytown for Gun Safety (Bloomberg’s gun control group) states that the present NRA leadership has led the organization through a fundamental transformation, relentlessly pressing legislators throughout the United States to enact more dangerous gun laws, while blocking Congress from taking actions to properly address the national epidemic of gun violence.

The impact of widespread availability of guns on American families, children, and communities has been considerable. It is estimated that guns kill 86 Americans every day. According to the FBI, there were 8,583 homicides by firearms in 2011, out of a total of 12,644 homicides. In addition, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of 38,264 suicides in 2010 almost 50 percent involved a gun.

Easy availability of guns is behind all these phenomena. It is estimated that there are 310 million guns in the country. There is now one gun per person, up from one gun every two persons in the 1960s. The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership of any country in the world, by a wide difference.

Easy availability of guns translates into the United States having the highest rate of homicides (5.1 murders per 100,000 people according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,) among all industrialized countries in the world. The next most violent developed country in the world is Finland, with a homicide rate of 2.5 of the United States, approximately half of the United States.

In the meantime, private groups such as One Million Moms for Gun Control are becoming increasingly active in their efforts to bring common sense to the issue of gun ownership in the United States. As Shannon Watts, founder of One Million Moms for Gun Control, has stated, “For too long, the conversation about gun violence in America has been controlled by those who stand to profit from easy access to guns. In the meantime, American families continue to be destroyed by gun violence.”

Dr. César Chelala is an international public health consultant and a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.

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