David Lazarus has a column in today’s L.A. Times that is titled “Job Creators, Life Enders” about the gun industry, regulation, and more.
In it, he interviews Larry Hunter, one of the organizers of Gun Appreciation Day, a former vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a congressional staffer who now heads Revolution PAC, a conservative political action committee.
Here are a few of the words Hunter chose to use while discussing public safety regarding the common sense regulation of firearms: Liberty, freedom, police state, runaway government power, tyrannical, and “preventing the government from overthrowing liberty.”
He also said the NRA doesn’t go far enough in its defense of gun rights.
Or as I like to call it, extremism.
Then Lazarus went on to write about the firearms industry:
Gun and ammo companies accounted for nearly $32 billion in economic activity last year, according to a recent report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry group based in Newtown, Conn., where 20 little kids and six adults were shot to death last month. [Laffy Note: I wrote about them and their chillingly ironic location here.]
The foundation emphasized that its members are, first and foremost, job creators. [...]
But left unsaid was the fact that as the gun business was hiring about 13,000 people a year, its product was being used to kill more than twice that number.
Read that last part again. Some track record.
Lazarus then quoted a few more stats: Guns were used in 11,078 U.S. homicides in 2010, and in 19,392 suicides, and every year, about 600 fatalities are a result of accidental gun deaths. He then reminds us of a 3-year-old boy in Washington state who discovered his father’s gun under a car seat and fatally shot himself in the head. (You can read about many, many more firearms “mishaps” here.)
And that leads us to regulation of not only guns, but also other products that can kill. As Lazarus rightly notes, “guns are inherently dangerous, just as cigarettes and alcohol are.” But gun supporters are reluctant to acknowledge the obvious:
We heavily regulate smokes and booze to minimize as much as possible their threat to society. Why shouldn’t the same thinking apply to guns?
That doesn’t mean anyone should or will be taking away people’s handguns and rifles. We don’t do that with cigarettes or liquor.
But just as the goal of much of our tobacco and alcohol regulation focuses on keeping these products out of the wrong hands and preventing them from being misused, regulation of firearms needs to focus on reducing gun violence.
Of course Hunter (ironic name) insists that “The problem is not gun violence. The biggest problem is that we live in a culture that is suffused with violence… and psychiatric drugs.” And while Hunter insists on insisting that anything-but-guns is the problem, Lazarus insists that “guns, like cigarettes and alcohol, have a track record of causing harm to their users and others” and that our very non-tyrannical president is simply prioritizing transparency and limited access to specific weapons “whose sole purpose is to kill people.”
In other words, lives matter.
We tend to regulate any product that causes needless deaths. Lazarus uses cribs and power tools as examples of items that at times have proved to be unsafe, and notes that gun zealots (my word, not his) don’t object to crib/tool control, but when it comes to gun safety, uh-uh, verboten, no way, no how.
Hunter expressed his concerns that stricter weapons oversight would lead to complete prohibition, as happened with alcohol back in the day. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard that argument a lot lately. Lazarus responds with this:
He needs to look around and realize that liquor is legal and available; cigarettes are legal and available. But they’re regulated to improve the public welfare. No one would argue that, absent such regulation, the country would be better off.
Take note, “freedom” defenders and “pro-lifers.”