Will Gun Control Myths Derail Action on Gun Reforms Again? — Karen Finney
Perhaps, as thousands of protestors demanded in mid-June, just weeks after deadly mass shootings in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, Texas, this time will be different for meaningful federal gun reform legislation. And perhaps the political equation has finally changed just enough for members of Congress who previously feared the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association over the majority of Americans calling for common sense reforms to finally have the courage to act. A recent Ipsos survey taken after the Uvalde mass shooting found that while the number of Americans who support reforms overall remains fairly steady at 69% — 10%, the number of republicans who support reforms increased from 35% last year to 50% this year. The study also found that 64% of Independents say “loose gun laws” are responsible for mass shootings as are 43% of republicans, up from 27% a year ago.
The bi-partisan gun reform proposal announced over the June 10th weekend is a modest, but meaningful step in the right direction. As the proposal now begins the process of becoming legislation to be approved by both chambers of Congress, the majority of Americans who support common sense reforms must keep the pressure on Congress to ensure meaningful legislation makes it to President Biden’s desk for his signature. We must also keep the public conversation focused on facts and not, as has happened many times in the past, become distorted by false rhetoric and misinformation aimed at distracting from the very lethal danger that legal loopholes, guns, particularly weapons of war like AR-15’s and high-capacity ammunition pose.
In December 2012 following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting I wrote a column taking on some of the rhetoric and myths about “gun control,” ten years later much of the same rhetoric threatens the current effort to overcome partisan obstruction in support of the safety of our children and our communities.
As I wrote then, “If we accept the behavioral premise that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ in the gun debate, we must also recognize our role in ensuring that every person who chooses to exercise his or her Second Amendment right does so responsibly. Given that on average 100,000 people are shot or killed with a gun in a year, or that mass shootings seem to be on the rise along with gun sales and access to guns overall, we should also get real about the idea that there is much ‘control’ in our current system of ‘gun control.’ Instead of reinforcing a false paranoia narrative about ‘control’ and limiting rights, it’s time to reframe the conversation about guns to focus on how we address the realities of human behavior to more effectively prevent gun violence and protect our safety.
“According to the Harvard Injury Control Center, higher household gun ownership correlates with higher rates of homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. Studies also show that some 41 percent of gun-related homicides and 94 percent of gun-related suicides would not occur if no guns were present. A study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health found that women living in homes with one or more guns were more than three times more likely to be killed in their homes; and that ‘women killed by a spouse, intimate acquaintance or close relative were seven times more likely to live in homes with one or more guns and 14 times more likely to have a history of prior domestic violence compared to women killed by non-intimate acquaintances.’
“Human behavior also tells us that too many people will skirt the rules or exploit loopholes where they can: Roughly 40 percent of gun sales occur without a background check at a federally licensed dealer.
“The behavior seen too often here inside the Beltway is to cry outrage in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy but lose courage during the legislative process. This time the conversation can’t be allowed to disintegrate into partisan bickering. The majority of Americans who support ensuring responsible behavior — Democrats, Republicans, NRA members, non-gun owners, urbanites and suburbanites — must keep the pressure on every elected political leader and call for a holistic approach to America’s gun problem.”
Nearly ten years and far too many mass casualties later here we are again as Uvalde and Tops market in Buffalo join a growing list of mass shootings in America, over 250 in 2022 alone. But perhaps if we continue to demand it, this time will be different.
To read the original 2012 article, click here
About Karen Finney: A television commentator, political and communications strategist, and thought leader, Karen has thrived at the intersection of politics, media, and cultural change for over 25 years. Her career includes roles as top Democratic communications strategist and spokesperson; political commentator for CNN and MSNBC; television and radio host; business and communications advisor; advocate for social justice and civil rights; and White House staffer. Currently she is a political commentator for CNN, host on TV One, and columnist and consultant working with non-profit, for-profit, and political clients. Karen also serves on the boards of several national organizations that reflect her commitment to empowering women, illuminating tough issues from different perspectives and supporting the next generation of leaders.
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