We're Not The NRA
August 19, 2004
Believe it or not, the majority of gun owners, NASCAR fans and military families all are in favor of a ban on assault weapons. So when even the most pro-gun factions of the country are in favor of the ban, why is its renewal even a contested issue? Well, says Children's Defense Fund's Murray, it's got a lot to do with the campaign funding brought to you by the letters N, R, and A.
Murray is co-director of Education & Youth Development at the Children's Defense Fund
Gun manufacturers are eagerly ratcheting up their military assault weapons production lines as they count down the final days of the 10-year-old Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Congress is scheduled to be in session for a mere four days before the ban expires on September 13. Soon after, these deadly killing machines will be back
The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban came about in response to horrific mass killings: 21 killed and 19 wounded at a McDonalds in San Ysidro, Calif. (1984); six killed and 14 wounded in Palm Bay, Fla. (1987); five children killed and 29 children and one teacher wounded in Stockton, Calif. (1989); eight killed and 12 wounded in Louisville, Ky. (1989); two killed and three wounded in Langley, Va. (1993); four killed and 16 wounded in Waco, Texas (1993); and eight killed and six wounded in San Francisco, Calif. (1993).
Since 1994, the year the ban went into effect, child and teen deaths from firearms have dropped 50 percent. Overall, gun deaths have dropped nearly 25 percent. Child and teen death rates from firearms had increased every year from 1979 through 1994 and have decreased each and every year since 1994. Crime gun traces involving assault weapons have dropped 79 percent since 1994.
President George W. Bush has stated his support for the ban, saying, “It makes no sense for assault weapons to be around our society.” But when the United States Senate renewed the ban in March, the president stood idly by while the National Rifle Association snuffed out the underlying bill. Meanwhile, a recent poll of 10 states by the Consumer Federation of America and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence found widespread and diverse support for the ban, including an overwhelming majority of citizens in traditional “pro-gun” areas of the country; 60 percent of active duty and retired military families; 60 percent of NASCAR fans; and a clear majority of gun owners.
Assault weapons are designed for one purpose and one purpose only—to kill the maximum number of human beings as quickly and efficiently as possible. Every major law-enforcement organization and nearly 900 police chiefs from across the country support banning these military-style guns. These are not hunting weapons.
They are not necessary for protecting one's home and family. Despite the NRA's specious protests of infringement upon the Second Amendment's right to bear arms, neither the Federal Assault Weapons Ban nor any state or local assault weapons ban has ever been struck down by a constitutional challenge.
Sounds like renewing the Assault Weapons Ban is a no-brainer, doesn't it? But even this kind of overwhelming support can't force the passage of the utterly common-sense legislation that will extend the ban. Neither the will of our citizenry, nor the ban's success, can guarantee its continuity. Not in this country, not with the financial backing and power of the NRA.
It is beyond question that a clear and substantial majority of citizens in the United States favor renewing the assault weapons ban, yet our political will has been manipulated, subverted and hijacked by an extraordinarily well-organized lobbying group that contributes millions of dollars to members of Congress and whose message is at best non-representative and at worst deadly. How is it possible that a small, extremist, increasingly marginal, yet well-funded special interest group could literally be controlling gun policy for our country?
Where is the president? Where is the Congress? Where is our outrage? We have a gun lobby with unprecedented power, a gun industry that is virtually unregulated, and we are losing eight children a day to gun violence. Every three hours, a child in this country is killed by a firearm. Our children are not safe on their playgrounds, in their schools, in their communities. What will it take for all of us to wake up? What will it take for us to protect children instead of rich special interest groups?
Will it take another Columbine? Our children cannot afford that kind of lesson.
Distributed by MinutemanMedia.org