Frank Miniter: To reduce gun violence, we need to do these things
When he called the Republican-controlled Virginia Legislature to the state Capitol for a special session this week, Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam wasn’t really attempting to make changes to the state’s gun laws that would have stopped the murderer who killed a dozen people in Virginia Beach in May.
In fact, despite his claims to the contrary, Northam was simply playing gun control politics. He was crassly using the deaths of victims to push the current national agenda of those who want to blame guns and law-abiding gun owners for the actions of criminals and the mentally ill.
The Republicans called Northam on this obviously political ploy. With their one-vote majorities in the state House of Delegates and Senate, they cut the special session short. It lasted only 90 minutes.
Republican lawmakers wisely referred all of the gun control bills submitted to the special session of the Legislature to the bipartisan state Crime Commission. This will enable the proposals to be studied, so lawmakers can actually craft legislation that would help save lives.
By declining to vote on a long list of gun control proposals, Virginia legislators reminded us of what is really preventing America from coming together in a bipartisan way on this issue: Americans are divided between three wildly different gun cultures.
First, there is the freedom-loving, law-abiding, gun rights culture that upholds the responsible use of guns for hunting, sport and self-defense. This includes nearly all of the more than 100 million gun owners in America today. Over 5 million people who are part of this culture are members of the National Rifle Association, where I serve as editor in chief of the NRA’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom.
Will we continue to waste resources, media time and more as we allow the mainstream media to unfairly blame America’s law-abiding gun owners for the actions of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill?
Second, there is the criminal culture that thrives in spite of, or even because of, government attempts at restricting our constitutional right to bear arms.
And third, there is the part of the culture – including many members of the mainstream media – that is made up of people who have no experience with firearms, but who fear guns out of ignorance. This group often exhibits a complete unwillingness to even try to understand American freedom.
Worse still, this last group is actively blaming the gun rights segment of the American citizenry for the unlawful actions of the second part – the criminals and the mentally ill.
This sets the stage for the culture war now underway.
The most disturbing part of this issue is there are good solutions available, but the mainstream media have no interest in them, as they require us to focus on the actual problem – the criminal element in our society and the mentally ill.
The mainstream media, instead, are waging a political war. They want to win power for their preferred political party. They have little interest in doing honest reporting on gang violence and how we can make inner city communities safer.
They have little interest in devoting more resources to helping us find and treat the small percentage of mentally ill people who might do violent things. To the mainstream media, doing any of that would require us to focus on what they view as marginalized communities, many of which have high minority populations.
It is more politically expedient for them to instead blame people who largely don’t vote for Democrats and who mostly live outside of inner city communities where gang-related homicides are a serious problem.
The same can be said for focusing on the relatively few members of American society who are violent due to serious mental health issues. Those people can be hard to find and diagnose. It is much easier and more politically advantageous for the mainstream media to simply blame gun ownership.
Meanwhile, things that might have actually stopped the Virginia Beach murderer – at least before he killed a dozen people – require us to allow average citizens to utilize their constitutional right to bear arms.
To stop something as random as a person who doesn’t have a criminal record – yet suddenly and for unfathomable reasons decides to perform an evil act – people need their right to self-preservation, as granted to us by the Second Amendment of our Bill of Rights.
Virginia’s political disagreement on this issue demonstrates what is happening nationally. Will we continue to waste resources, media time and more as we allow the mainstream media to unfairly blame America’s law-abiding gun owners for the actions of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill?
Criminals almost always use illegal guns to commit their crimes. This is hardly the fault of average gun owners in America or their guns. Criminals and a small percentage of the mentally ill are the cause. We need to focus our resources on the actual problem.
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