By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – The National Rifle Association and its foot soldiers don’t let a little thing like a mass outpouring of grief cloud their vision or divert them from their mission.
That’s why, just hours after the gun-related carnage in Las Vegas, Nevada, in which at least 59 people died and another 527 were injured, Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour – the NRA’s main mouthpiece in the Hoosier state – argued that no possible change in gun laws could have prevented the slaughter out west.
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
He said the shooter had passed a background check. Therefore, he reasoned, no gun law would have worked.
Keep in mind that Lucas and his cronies in the gun lobby have done everything they can to gut background checks.
That alone makes his assertion that background checks are proof gun laws can’t work as credible as a vandal’s complaint that an automobile’s design is flawed because the car won’t start after he’s drained the gas tank and stolen the sparkplugs.
Even if that weren’t true, Lucas’s rush to suppress any discussion of sensible gun laws is as predictable as sunrise and as inevitable as sunset.
His response is right out of the NRA playbook. Rather than consider ways law-abiding gun owners’ rights might be protected and lives might be saved through common-sense regulations, they refuse to consider the question from the outset.
Lucas’s technique is a prime example.
He refuses to answer all questions about guns that cause concern among Americans.
Why are citizens of the United States 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than citizens of other developed countries?
Why do we have so many mass shootings?
Why can every other developed nation but us solve this problem?
Instead, Lucas asks a question when he has no interest in hearing the answer, much less exploring it. He’s said, repeatedly, that there is no gun law he ever would consider.
He says this is because armed self-defense is both a natural right and a bulwark against government tyranny.
By that reasoning, because most governments have nuclear and biological weapons, individuals should be allowed to own them, too.
That certainly would make America’s streets safer, now wouldn’t it?
Furthermore, if armed self-defense is a natural right for all humans, then we Americans really shouldn’t be so concerned about North Korea or any other rogue state developing nuclear missiles or any other weapons of mass destruction. In doing so, they, after all, just are exercising their natural rights.
Again, permitting an unstable and delusional dictator the means to destroy people by the millions doubtless will make the world a much safer place, too.
So, if we don’t buy Lucas’s NRA-approved (and, doubtless, NRA-generated) argument that everyone, regardless of how demented or malevolent, is entitled to have all the deadly weapons he or she wants, then answering the man’s question about laws that might make a difference isn’t that tough.
For instance, we could start by asking whether it’s a good idea to allow anyone – such as the 64-year-old accountant who opened fire in Vegas – to stockpile dozens of weapons, including many, many automatic weapons.
The kinds of guns that murderer used aren’t for hunting or even self-defense. Those kinds of weapons are designed simply to kill many, many human beings in a hurry. Anyone who owns one of those guns – much less more than a dozen of them – plans no good.
We regulate the sale of cold medications and maintain databases of the people who buy them.
Why not weapons of mass slaughter?
If we had such a database, at the very least we’d know if someone was building an arsenal and take appropriate precautions.
But that’s a common-sense way we might be able to save human lives without curtailing the rights of gun owners who mean their neighbors and fellow citizens no harm.
But that assumes saving lives is the priority.
In the NRA-driven fantasy world Lucas and his friends occupy, people aren’t the priority.
That’s why the man says he won’t consider any gun restriction whatsoever, regardless of how sensible, regardless of how many lives might be saved.
Jim Lucas says that’s because guns don’t kill.
He forgets that guns also don’t die.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.