It seems more than odd to me that after every mass casualty shooting event, in this specific case the crimes Nicolas Cruz is accused of, there is an immediate rush by pundits and politicians to place blame on those groups and people they disagree with. All too often, legitimate questions as to why and how such tragedies happen, and the search for honest answers to those questions, are muted by a cacophony of emotion fueled demagoguery. Simplistic, symbolic gestures are put forward as the answer to very complicated problems. Following are just a few of the “blame game” statements I’ve heard over the last couple of weeks. This is just a small sample, there have been hundreds, perhaps thousands more. In the interest of full disclosure, I am an Endowment member of the NRA, and I hold numerous NRA Instructor and Coach Certifications.
Of course, the very first blame goes to the AR style semi-auto rifle used by Cruz. “Ban them!” is the immediate almost Pavlovian response after every incident like this one. I heard one news pundit even go so far as to state that when someone picks up an AR rifle “their personas change,” the point being that holding an AR triggers thoughts of violence. I can find no empirical evidence or study that would support this assertion; I can only find same “nothing burger” that this reporter found in Al Capone’s vault. Lots of hyperbole, no factual proof. It is estimated that there are somewhere between 20 and 30 million semi-auto, magazine fed AR or similar style rifles in this country. I have heard and seen the question, “Why does anyone need an AR?” Every owner of an AR or similar rifle has a reason; maybe to hunt, compete, for self-defense, or just because it is their right. If the assertion that “personas change” were true, we would be suffering dozens of massacres every day.
After blaming guns, next in line for blame is the NRA. The NRA is one of the most, if not the most demonized organizations in this country. Recently, we have even been described as a terrorist group. The NRA has been described as “overly powerful”, the cause of all the carnage in our nation, and feared by politicians everywhere. The NRA advocates for not only the rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment, but all the rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. The NRA derives its power from its 5 million members and the millions of others who support NRA positions, not from its “buying” politicians. Most political spending by the NRA involves advocating for cause, not for individuals.
NRA members are not the crazy eyed, gun toting maniacs as so often described by those advocates of gun control; but law-abiding, respectful citizens who are as troubled by these tragedies as anyone. We advocate and train tens of thousands of Americans each year. Over the past decades, I have personally instructed hundreds of students in firearms safety and use. Thousands of NRA firearms courses, all of which stress gun safety, are offered every year. Try to find an Everytown for Gun Safety firearms safety course.
Perhaps the most corrupt statement I have heard in the last two weeks came from Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel when he blamed his deputies for the failures in preventing and then stopping Cruz. Israel then went on to describe himself as offering “amazing leadership.” I guess the buck keeps on going.
Finally, several corporations have severed ties with the NRA; I contacted a few questioning their reasons for doing so. In return, I got the usual crass gibberish about how they often evaluate their business relationships. I have no problem with anyone or any company choosing who they want to associate with, that is their right. But if someone or some company doesn’t want my business, so be it, I’ll shop elsewhere.
We must stop the demonizing rhetoric and the blame game and work for practical, effective solutions that will truly make our society safer.
Be safe and good shooting.