Gun control isn't exactly a subject that can be talked about openly without inciting heated arguments. People care deeply about their right to own guns and the opposition sees a massive, gun toting population as a danger to public safety.
Look, I'm just an artist, I painted the image above and this blog post exists to explain the meaning behind it. (The bubble gum represents naivety, there, enough about that.) I've shot many different types of guns, been in a family household with several guns. I'm not anti-2nd amendment or a gun rights activist. I'm not going to pontificate for either side.
No, let's just get real practical here for a minute and use our god given brains to focus extra hard on an actual real world solution that most everyone can get behind. Everyone, except apparently the NRA, which is sometimes generously referred to as a "civil rights organization". (really)
Before we get knee deep in sidearms lets talk about cars.
Cars kill a lot of people, they used to kill an awful lot more, we didn't outlaw cars for obvious reasons. We did, however, use our brainy brains and created a new entity, the National Highway Safety Bureau (NHSB). We did this because by 1966 automobile deaths were a clear public health risk and we, you know, wanted to do something about it. It worked by the way, as soon as 1970, deaths were declining as well as traffic accidents. New technologies emerged like air bags, better seat belts, anti-lock brakes, car seats and much better safety designs of the actual cars all contributed to lowering the dangers of driving.
Turns out we were doing the same thing with guns, until 1993, when a study was released that stated, not surprisingly, that having a gun in your home made it much more likely that a gun related death would occur to yourself or a loved one. The NRA lost its collective shit and successfully lobbied for, campaigned and otherwise eliminated funding for any future gun related scientific inquiry or study to be made with government funding.
This is insane.
Gun deaths and gun violence are clear public safety issues, children have been shot up at school, repeatedly. I could write a few more paragraphs detailing how we are far and away the most at risk country in the civilized world as it relates to being shot in the face by some lunatic with a gun but I'll just let Dr. Steven Jack of the American Medical Association sum it for us.
“With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theaters, workplaces, houses of worship and on live television, the United States faces a public health crisis of gun violence,” AMA president Dr. Steven J. Stack
So why aren't we doing anything about it?
The NRA is why.
The NRA has put a stranglehold on gun related research for decades.
“Doing the research suggests how people can have their guns and keep their communities safe,” he said. “You can’t lock up the science for 20 years and try to proceed by yelling.” - Dr. Mark Rosenberg. Previous Director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC. (Center for Disease Control)
President Obama commissioned the CDC to re-institute gun violence research to study how we can best limit gun deaths, to the tune of 10 million dollars. Laws, created by the senators & congressmen tucked away in the NRA's pockets, as well as shear lobbying power, successfully blocked that executive order.
This isn't a matter of taking away anyone's guns. The CDC talks about first accumulating data, then interpreting that data and implementing possible solutions. Some things mentioned; promoting the use of gun safes, improving gun safety technology, better screening processes and mandatory gun safety courses.
Why doesn't the NRA want us to even STUDY gun violence?
Because, it isn't a civil rights organization, it isn't about freedom and liberty and justice for all, no matter how many cold, dead fingers we have to pry off Charlton Heston's hunting rifle. They are a cold, calculating business, they want your money, they want to sell violence, not prevent it. They really do not care, at all, that their product is used to murder innocent people, including children. They don't care whether or not gun education in this country would actually improve the quality of lives for gun owners by making them less stigmatized as gun toting 2nd amendment hawks.
Gun advocates love pointing out that the commonly purchased civilian AR-15 is the exact same thing as any number of semi-automatic hunting rifles, just with a different shell. But that kind of is the point isn't it? Gun manufactures know that they will sell more rifle's if they look like they are built to kill people, not deer. Guns don't kill people, people kill people, and gun manufacturing are happy to sell that idea and keep the government from doing standard research to reduce the problem.
I don't care if you want to arm everyone one on the planet with a freshly minted 9mm or think every gun should be melted into charm bracelets for peace. Studying an issue to more accurately understand it should never be obstructed, let alone completely blocked by very the industry most affected by its findings.
Jason Luper is a an artist working in Riverside California.