Tag Archives: NRA

Why the NRA makes America so very dangerous

TOM REGAN: SUMMONING ORENDA
July 16, 2016

“Lock and load. Defend liberty” is what the sign outside the gun shop in my sleepy little Virginia town says. Last week it was something like “Arm yourself so you can shoot back.”

In the rural Virginia area where I live, there are at least five gun shops in a 15-mile radius.  The population of my town, Lovettsville, is 1,800 hearty – and apparently well-armed – souls. And if they are not well-armed, well then the National Rifle Association is going do its best to make sure they are.

NRA

© Tom Regan 2016

Recent events – the shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the subsequent shootings of five police officers in Dallas – were not only tragic proof of the abysmal state of race relations in America, but also of the overwhelming presence of guns and how they affect everyday interactions between family members, citizens and the police, and, most glaringly, black citizens and the police.

The purpose of this column is not to deal with race relations in the US. I have written about that before and most likely will again.

No, the purpose is to look at how the NRA’s toxic message of guns, guns, guns, and fear, fear, fear, affects the way people deal with daily problems, and the way police respond to all kinds of situations.

The NRA, while not a terrorist organization by nature of the way we define terror, is still about as close as you can get to being one without being one. Instead of “defending liberty,” like the sign proclaims, the NRA probably does more to deprive people of their liberty (and lives), while making America one of the deadliest places on the planet, a place so dangerous that other nations have started to issue travel warnings to their citizens because of the danger of the abundance of guns in America.

There are more than enough statistics and examples that show intelligent gun regulations work, whether in Canada, the United Kingdom or Australia. The NRA leadership, however, foams at the mouth whenever these examples are produced, and inevitably falls back on a number of tired tropes that have repeatedly been shown to be false: “If you take guns away from the good guys, only the bad guys will have guns.” And, “It only takes one good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun,” etc. etc.

By intimidation, backing far-right conservative candidates, and rampant, never-ending fear-mongering, the NRA has managed to get laws passed that support its dark agenda. Open-carry laws, concealed carry laws (which apparently don’t seem to help much if you’re a black man in Minnesota), and Stand Your Ground laws contribute to making this country one of the most dangerous places on the planet.

So to return to the police question again: You’re a police officer about to question someone, or go to a domestic dispute, or give a speeding ticket. Thanks to the NRA (which has undermined almost every effort by police to make the country less well-armed), you would be an idiot not to assume the person you are dealing with is armed. Recent data shows that police are more likely to be shot in states with a high percentage of gun ownership; the more guns in the state, the more likely a cop will be shot.

Now, overlay that fear among police with the institutionalized racism so prevalent in many police departments, and you get the seemingly never-ending incidents of black men being shot down by police, even when unarmed, or when legally carrying a firearm.

It’s not that police in other countries aren’t racist. There was a recent story of a black man in the Canadian province of New Brunswick being questioned by police because someone thought it was “suspicious” to see him sitting on a park bench, reading a book. But police in other countries do not have to worry as much, in most cases, that their interactions with the public will result in their being shot. That changes the nature of the interaction, and while it may still result in harm to individuals through brutal police tactics, there is not a lot of shooting involved.

Meanwhile, thanks to the NRA, guns are one of the most popular ways for people to express frustration or anger. The recent story of a hard-core NRA supporter who shot and killed her two daughters after an argument is a great example of this, and far from an isolated case. Take, for instance, the two supporters of a militia who got into an argument; one shot the other in the head.

It would take volumes to go over all the shootings that result from America’s largely unfettered access to these weapons of death, not even including considering guns used to commit suicide.

There have been some recent victories against the NRA. Some, including Connecticut and California, introduced legislation that reduces the size of ammunition clips and how many guns a person can buy over a period of time. Once again, however, the Republican party (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NRA) defeated legislation that would have resulted in more stringent background checks.

Guns will always be a part of America. It’s just the way it is, and nothing is going to change that. But something can be done to reduce the unfettered access to guns, ammunition and over-sized clips. The NRA is opposed to any kind of law that will make Americans safer, and will fight any intelligent regulation tooth and nail.

But if individuals and smart politicians can build on the successes of Connecticut and California, and the growing sense of horror among Americans at what guns are doing to this country, maybe we can at least reduce the effects of the NRA’s terror-like impulses.

Copyright Tom Regan 2016

Contact Tom Regan:  motnager@gmail.com

Links:

 

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Tom Regan Tom Regan has worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and with the National Film Board in Canada, and in the United States for the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and National Public Radio. A former executive director of the Online News Association in the U.S., he was a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 1991-92. He is based near Washington, D.C.

Return to Tom Regan’s page 

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

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Massacre at US nightclub

Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

Massacre at U.S. nightclub, ISIS claims responsibility, by Reuters

 A man armed with an assault rifle killed 50 people at a packed gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on Sunday in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, which President Barack Obama described as an act of terror and hate.

Police killed the shooter, who was identified as Omar Mateen, 29, a Florida resident and U.S. citizen who was the son of immigrants from Afghanistan.

Islamic State claimed responsibility, but U.S. officials said they had seen no immediate evidence linking the militant group to the massacre …. read more.

Recommended elsewhere: Frederic Lemieux, a criminologist at George Washington University, writes about the six things Americans should know about mass shootings.

Related on F&O: analysis from our archives:

America’s gun cult, Switzerland’s firearms culture, by Jonathan Manthorpe, International Affairs columnist

In the ranks of “barbaric cultural practices,” the United States’ addiction to firearms is among the most deadly. The results of gun violence in the U.S. are in the same order of magnitude as the fruits of terrorism in the entire world. But the epidemic of gun slaughter in the U.S. is not entirely down to the simple availability of firearms in, it seems, almost every home. The Swiss also have firearms readily available, but they do not massacre each other at nearly the same rate as the Americans.

Why ISIS is winning, with America’s help, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda columnist

The attacks in Paris were as much a sign of ISIS’s weaknesses, as a demonstration of its ability to strike. If Western governments had grasped the opportunity to turn this horrible tragedy against ISIS, we might have pulled off a small but important victory against these murderers. Instead, we played the hand that ISIS dealt us like a bunch of hillbilly rubes at a blackjack table in Las Vegas.

Waiting for America’s next mass murder, by Tom Regan, Summoning Orenda columnist

We won’t have to wait long. He’s out there right now. We don’t know his name, or where it will happen, but he will do it. We’ll know his name within the next week or so. It will be a he. Very few mass murders are committed by shes. It’s hard to even think of any. He’s likely early, maybe mid-20s.

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

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Massacre at U.S. nightclub, ISIS claims responsibility

Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse night club,in Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

Friends and family members embrace outside the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse night club,in Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

By Barbara Liston
June 12, 2016

Police cars and fire trucks are seen outside the Pulse night club where police said a suspected gunman left multiple people dead and injured in Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016. Orlando Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

Police cars and fire trucks are seen outside the Pulse night club where police said a suspected gunman left multiple people dead and injured in Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016. Orlando Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) – A man armed with an assault rifle killed 50 people at a packed gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on Sunday in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, which President Barack Obama described as an act of terror and hate.

Police killed the shooter, who was identified as Omar Mateen, 29, a Florida resident and U.S. citizen who was the son of immigrants from Afghanistan.

Mateen called 911 on Sunday morning and made comments saying he supported the Islamic State militant group, officials said.

“It has been reported that Mateen made calls to 911 this morning in which he stated his allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State,” said Ronald Hopper, the FBI’s assistant special agent in charge on the case.

(Related story below: Islamic State claims responsibility for Orlando shooting)

U.S. officials cautioned, however, that they had no conclusive evidence of any direct connection with Islamic State or any other foreign extremist group.

“We know enough to say this was an act of terror, an act of hate,” Obama said in a speech from the White House. “As Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage and in resolve to defend our people.”

U.S. officials have reached no definitive judgment on the killer’s precise motives, Obama added.

“We must spare no effort to determine what, if any, inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups,” he said.

Fifty-three people were wounded in the rampage. It was the deadliest single U.S. mass shooting incident, eclipsing the 2007 massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech university.

Pulse was crowded with some 350 revellers at a Latin music night when the attack happened.

Clubgoer Joshua McGill described in a posting on Facebook how he fled the attack.

“I hid under a car and found one of the victims that was shot,” McGill said, describing trying to bandage the victim with his shirt and quietly dragging him to a nearby police officer. “Words cannot and will not describe the feeling of that. Being covered in blood. Trying to save a guy’s life.”

A hostage situation developed, and three hours later a team of SWAT officers used armoured cars to storm the club before shooting dead the gunman. It was unclear when the victims were killed.

The number of dead shocked local officials, who had initially put the death toll at 20.

“Today we’re dealing with something that we never imagined and is unimaginable,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said. He said 39 people died inside the club, two outside, and nine others died after being rushed to hospital.

Orlando Regional Medical Center Hospital said it had admitted 44 victims, including nine who died, and had carried out 26 operations on victims.

Officers arrive at the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

Officers arrive at the Orlando Police Headquarters during the investigation of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub, where people were killed by a gunman, in Orlando, Florida, U.S June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

PRIOR FBI INTERVIEWS

Orlando gay nightclub mass shooting suspect Omar Mateen, 29 is shown in this undated photo. Orlando Police Department/Handout via Reuter

Orlando gay nightclub mass shooting suspect Omar Mateen, 29 is shown in this undated photo. Orlando Police Department/Handout via Reuter

Mateen had twice been interviewed by FBI agents, in 2013 and 2014, after making comments to co-workers indicating he supported militant groups, but neither interview lead to evidence of criminal activity, the FBI’s Hopper said.

As police tried to determine what motivated Mateen’s rampage, about a dozen unmarked police cars had gathered around a Port Saint Lucie house that appeared to be linked to the gunman. Police on the scene declined to comment, and neighbours said they didn’t  much activity in or around the white stucco home

“I’ve never seen anyone come in or out,” said Aryne Rackley, who has lived three doors away for the past three years. “Nobody is ever in the backyard.”

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on a congressional intelligence committee, said there were indications of “an ISIS-inspired act of terrorism,” referring to Islamic State.

Likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, said he was “right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

He called in a tweet on Sunday for “toughness and vigilance.” Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted a brief statement after the attacks, but did not speculate on the motives of the gunman.

Florida Governor Rick Scott called for Americans to hold a moment of silence at 6 p.m. ET (2200 GMT) to commemorate the dead. World leaders including Pope Francis, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and the leaders of Canada and Afghanistan condemned the attack.

Mateen was born in New York of parents who were immigrants from Afghanistan, according to a federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

If confirmed as an act of terrorism, it would be the deadliest such attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, when al Qaeda-trained hijackers crashed jetliners into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing some 3,000 people.

Mateen also referenced the ethnic Chechen brothers who killed three people in a bombing attack at the Boston Marathon in 2013, according to law enforcement officials.

The Orlando attacker was carrying an AR-15 style assault rifle and a handgun, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said. He also had an unidentified “device”, said Orlando Police Chief John Mina.

The choice of target was especially heart-wrenching for members of the U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, said LGBT advocacy group Equality Florida.

“Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety,” the group said in a statement. “We will await the details in tears of sadness and anger.”

Orlando has a population of more than 270,000 and is the home of the Disney World amusement park and many other tourist attractions that drew 62 million visitors in 2014.

Also on Sunday, a man was arrested in California with assault weapons and possible explosives and told authorities he was in the Los Angeles area for the gay pride festival, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Copyright Reuters 2016

(Additional reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Zachary Fagenson in Port Saint Luice, Fla., Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Mark Hosenball in Washington and Chris Michaud in New York; Writing by Scott Malone and Daniel Wallis; Editing by Mary Milliken and Alistair Bell)

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here. Thanks for your interest and support.

Islamic State claims responsibility for Orlando shooting

By Jonathan Landay and Mark Hosenball

A handout photograph posted by the Orlando Police Department on Twitter with the words, "Pulse shooting: In hail of gunfire in which suspect was killed, OPD officer was hit. Kevlar helmet saved his life", in reference to the operation against a gun man inside Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016. Orlando Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

A handout photograph posted by the Orlando Police Department on Twitter with the words, “Pulse shooting: In hail of gunfire in which suspect was killed, OPD officer was hit. Kevlar helmet saved his life”, in reference to the operation against a gun man inside Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016. Orlando Police Department/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Islamic State claimed responsibility on Sunday for the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, but U.S. officials said they had seen no immediate evidence linking the militant group to the massacre in Orlando, Florida.

Islamic State’s claim was carried by Amaq, the organization’s news agency.

“The armed attack that targeted a gay night club in the city of Orlando in American state of Florida which left over 100 people dead or injured was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,” said the Amaq statement.

At least 50 people were killed and 53 others were wounded in the Pulse nightclub before the suspected gunman was shot to death by police.

The suspected shooter was identified by authorities as Omar Mateen, a Florida resident who a senior FBI official said might have had leanings toward Islamic State.

The FBI official cautioned, however, that proving the suspected link to radical Islamism required further investigation.

Two U.S. officials familiar with the investigation into the massacre said that no evidence had yet been found showing a direct link between the massacre and Islamic State or any other militant group.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said they had yet to see any direct contacts between any extremist group and the suspect.

Speaking at the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama called the attack “an act of terror” and an “act of hate,” and said the FBI would “spare no effort” to determine whether the suspect had been inspired by any extremist group.

The two officials familiar with the investigation said a leading theory was that the suspect somehow was inspired by Islamic militants.

One official said early information, the nature of which he did not disclose, indicated that the shooter was motivated by a mixture of “hate” and religion.

Federal authorities believe the shooter was Mateen, the U.S.-born son of Afghan immigrants, he said.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the worst mass shooting in U.S. history that took place in Orlando, Florida, at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the worst mass shooting in U.S. history that took place in Orlando, Florida, at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

‘ACT OF TERRORISM’

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement issued after a briefing on the massacre that several factors indicated the attack was an Islamic State-inspired “act of terrorism.”

He noted that the incident occurred during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, that Islamic State had called for attacks during that period, the target was an LGBT nightclub and it was hit during Gay Pride weekend.

Moreover, he said, that if accurate, “according to local law enforcement the shooter declared his allegiance to ISIS (Islamic State).”

An audio message purportedly issued last month by the spokesman of Islamic State called on followers to launch attacks in the United States and Europe during Ramadan, which began on June 5 in the United States.

“Ramadan, the month of conquest and jihad. Get prepared, be ready … to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers … especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America,” said the statement allegedly made by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani and distributed over Twitter accounts usually associated with Islamic State.

“The smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would if you were with us. If one of you hoped to reach the Islamic State, we wish we were in your place to punish the Crusaders day and night,” said the audio clip, the authenticity of which could not be verified.

Copyright Reuters 2016

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Peter Cooney)

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by our readers. It is ad-free and spam-free, and does not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we require a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Details here; donate below. Thanks for your interest and support.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

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Misunderstanding U.S. Gun Violence by Counting Mass Shootings

by Lois Beckett, ProPublica
December 4, 2015

According to articles this week across the Internet, there has been an average of one mass shooting every day in the United States: 355 so far this year. It’s a jarring statistic, and one that has gone viral in the wake of this week’s massacre in San Bernardino, California.

But there are two problems with the number: It doesn’t actually provide a clear estimate of how often the country has seen shooting rampages like the one in San Bernardino. And it obscures the broader reality of gun violence in America.

Counting “mass shootings” is notoriously complicated and contested, since there is no standard definition of what they are. Is it best to count shootings that injure or kill a certain number of people? Or should the definition focus more narrowly on attacks in which the motivation of the shooter “appears to be indiscriminate killing“?

Mother Jones, which has been tracking mass shootings since 2012, has counted just four mass shootings this year, and a total of 73 since 1982, as Mother Jones editor Mark Follman has noted in The New York Times.

In 2014, the FBI released its own count of “active shooter” incidents, focusing on events where law enforcement and citizens may have the chance to intervene and change the outcome of the ongoing shooting. It tallied a total of 160 of these events from 2000 to 2013–including high-profile shootings at Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and Sandy Hook Elementary School– with an average of 11 per year.

The “355 mass shootings this year” that has been rocketing around the Internet comes from a crowdsourced Reddit initiative that gathers media reports of shootings in which four or more people were shot.

The Reddit count includes many incidents that Mother Jones, the FBI, and others leave out: for instance, a home robbery, a drive-by shooting, and a gang fight.

The Reddit project’s organizers suggest this broader approach does a better job of capturing the burden of gun violence–including the suffering and costs of treating people who are shot and survive.

“The most obscene incidents of gun violence usually do not make the mainstream news at all,” the project’s introduction says, citing a nightclub shooting in Tennessee in which 18 people were shot and only one person killed. “We believe the media does a disservice to mass shooting victims by virtually ignoring them unless large numbers are killed.”

Yet bundling together all incidents in which four people or more people are shot doesn’t capture the bigger picture.

As ProPublica detailed last week, gun murder in America is largely a story of race and geography. Half of all gun murder victims are black men. The gun murder rate for black Americans is dramatically higher than it is for white Americans. And the burden of violence tends to be concentrated in certain neighborhoods of certain cities.

Reddit’s Mass Shooting Tracker does not include any breakdown by race. In response to questions about the group’s numbers, one project organizer, GhostofAlyeska, wrote, “Our intent is not to analyze the causes or cures for gun violence, but simply to expose the available data. We’re volunteers working from a reddit community, nothing more.”

The Reddit project cites 462 people killed under its broad definition of mass shootings. The number of gun homicides of black men killed in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 5,798.

Baltimore alone has seen a total of 316 total homicides so far this year–the vast majority of them shooting deaths of black victims, according to the Baltimore Sun’s homicide map. The city’s homicide rate is now at a record high. The Reddit tracker captures eight of those deaths.

San Bernardino has two entries in this year’s Mass Shooting Tracker: yesterday’s attack, and a nightclub shooting reportedly linked to gang violence. The area has long struggled with poverty, gangs, and homicide. “My son was shot to death with an AK–47. My nephew was murdered and his body was burned and buried,” San Bernardino resident Marisa Hernandez told Vice News on Wednesday. “This type of mass shootings happens everyday here to our kids and nobody stops it, nobody does anything.”

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Maybe this time America won’t run away from better gun laws

TOM REGAN: SUMMONING ORENDA  
August, 2015 

Alison Parker and Adam Ward, gunned down by an enraged former co-worker at the WDBJ7 TV station in

Alison Parker and Adam Ward, gunned down this month by an enraged former co-worker at the WDBJ7 TV station in Roanoke, Virginia.

In all important social movements, there is a moment when you sense things begin to change. Obstacles that seem impossible to overcome or resistance that seems unsurmountable slowly begin to crumble away.

Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic (heaven knows I thought this would come before now), but I think we might be at such a crucial moment in the long history of trying to enact stronger gun regulations in the United States, and finally putting the demon of the National Rifle Association behind us.

I originally thought that moment would happen after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre. After all, how can the status quo survive, when so many elementary school age children are mowed down by a gun-obsessed madman?

But nothing did happen. After a brief flourish of anguish that was soon snuffed out by the relentless propaganda of the NRA about our “constitutional rights,” and politicians fled from the issue like chickens fleeing from a fox.

This time, however, something is different. This time the brutal murder of two journalists who worked in a TV station in Roanoke, Virginia, may have turned the tide. The key factor in this – video. This time there was video of the murders, not only from the camera of the murdered videographer but also from the camera of the murderer, who in an act that imitated the horrific killings of the Islamic state in Iraq, decided he was going to film his murders. 

Imagine how different the response might have been to Sandy Hook if we had video of the gunmen using his Bushmaster semi-automatic on the children. Imagine how different the response might have been from the average American who is content to express concern about guns but then let it pass like so much indigestion after a bad meal.

America is a video culture.

Whether it’s cable TV, or YouTube, or Instagram or Twitter, nothing really happens anymore if we don’t see it on video. Think of how the National Football League was forced to react with video surfaced of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his wife out in an elevator, and then dragging her out. Think of how the nation has reacted to the numerous videos of police brutality, as cameras embedded in smart phones have turned everyone into a videographer, making it extremely difficult for the police to explain away or ignore countless acts of brutality as they did in the past.

When the New York Post and the New York Daily News decided to feature stills taken from the video of the actual murders, they were criticized by some people. I disagree. While their motives may not have been pure (or maybe only purely financial) I think they actually did a great service. People need to see how the tsunami of guns in our culture is taking the lives of so many Americans.

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Just as Matthew Brady was said to have laid the dead of Antietam at the feet of the nation with his exhibition of photos after the American Civil War battle, perhaps these papers have done the same for us.

It wasn’t as if the NRA hadn’t already started to feel things slipping away. Several courts had upheld tighter gun regulations enacted by various municipalities across the US despite the efforts of the NRA to scuttle them. Meanwhile, in another huge blow last fall, Bill Gates financially supported a ballot measure in Washington state to have universal background checks on gun purchases. It passed with a 60% vote of support. And just the other day, Wal-Mart announced it would no longer sell the Bushmaster, the weapon of choice of so many American mass murders. (Wal-Mart said it wasn’t a political move, but there is no way in the current climate how it won’t be seen that way.)

The NRA, of course, has already started to try to undermine the stronger gun control message. In an interview Friday on CNN, Jim Gilmore (former governor of New Jersey, make-believe GOP presidential candidate and board member of the NRA) trotted out the same old tired constitutional rights argument that totally ignores the issue at hand. But there was a difference – it really did feel tired and rote this time.

Contrast the stale appearance of Gilmore with the emotional interview with the fathers of three young people killed in various gun massacres (including the father of Alison Parker, the murdered journalist). The impact was night and day. Two things in particular stood out for me in the interview: one was the three fathers understanding that change on this issue needed to be done state-by-state, and they were going to do it that way. The second was their plea to parents across the country to help them make these changes before their children were murdered.

Because it is slowly starting to sink in to Americans that it could happen to any one of us at any time. (There have been more mass shootings in the United States this year than there have been days in the year.) And now, as sad as it may be, we have a video to underlay that message: video that has been shown again and again and again on regular cable TV, not to mention the millions of times it has been shown on the various social media channels on the Internet.

Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps the nefarious NRA will triumph once again and nothing much will change. Perhaps once again politicians will flee from the issue like the cowards they’ve always been in the past.

But the time is coming. The tide is beginning to turn. You can feel it in the way these murders were covered in the nation’s media. You can feel it in the conversations that you have with people on the streets of your town. You can see it on social media, where more and more people who have been silent on this issue in the past are speaking out, trading stories, giving out links about stronger gun regulations.

Tougher gun regulations are coming, and there’s nothing the NRA can do to stop it.

Copyright Tom Regan 2015 

Contact Tom Regan:  motnager@gmail.com

References:

Wikipedia page for Sandy Hook school shooting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Hook_Elementary_School_shooting

Wikipedia page for  Battle of Antietam: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Antietam

Condolences page for Alison Parker and Adam Ward at WDBJ7 TV: http://www.wdbj7.com/news/local/condolences-for-wdbj7/34925820

VIEWER WARNING: link shows graphic, violent content: 
SHOCKING COMPLETE VIDEO SHOT FROM VIRGINIA GUNMAN’S POINT OF VIEW, InfoWars.com: http://www.infowars.com/graphic-shocking-complete-video-shot-from-virginia-gunmans-point-of-view/

 

Tom Regan Tom Regan has worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and with the National Film Board in Canada, and in the United States for the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and National Public Radio A former executive director of the Online News Association, he was a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 1991-92.

 

 

 

 

 

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