By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – Bet you didn’t know guns were a cure for cancer.
Or that they solve math problems faster than computers and calculators.
Or that they are even better than a mother’s love.
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
You would know – or at least believe – these things if you lived in the same part of the ideological landscape that Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, occupies.
Lucas is Indiana’s top advocate for the National Rifle Association and other gun lobbying organizations. In his world, guns are the solution to every problem, the tool to meet every challenge, the answer to every prayer.
Lucas has made news for, among other things, pushing through an Indiana law that allows people to bring guns onto school property and berating a lobbyist representing mothers concerned about gun violence during a legislative committee meeting.
He found his way into the spotlight again a few days ago by handwriting a note to an Indianapolis Star reporter who had done a story about a sexual-assault survivor and then posting the note on Facebook.
“After reading your front page article in the Sunday Star about the tragedy of rape, it would be nice to see a follow up article about the thousands of Hoosier women that are taking steps & learning how not to be a victim.
The reaction to Lucas’s note was immediate and intense. People accused him of blaming – if not shaming – the survivor by suggesting that she had allowed herself “to be a victim.” At their kindest, they said his note was insensitive.
It was insensitive, but not because Lucas is mean.
He’s just clueless.
I’ve had go-arounds with Jim Lucas. In person, he’s a nice guy.
It’s only when the subject of guns – or anything that touches his radicalized sense of the sphere of gun rights – comes up that he completely loses his senses.
That’s the way it is with ideologues.
Most of us look at America’s horrific record regarding gun-related violence – we Americans are 2,000 percent more likely to die by gun than people in other parts of the developed world – and see it as a problem to be solved.
Lucas and others who live in his world start from a different place. Their priority is less on solving the problem than on “proving,” generally in defiance of both fact and reason, that guns couldn’t be part of the problem.
In their strange, altered reality, the easy abundance of guns in the United States makes everyone safer. The fact that the United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population and Americans own more than half the world’s guns while remaining the deadliest place on the planet sways them not at all.
When I’ve asked Lucas what accounts for America’s staggering rate of gun-relating tragedy if guns aren’t part of the equation – are we Americans 2,000 percent more evil than people in other countries or just 2,000 percent dumber? – he always ducks the question.
That, too, is the way it is with ideologues.
When one of their prejudices or preconceived notions confronts an inconvenient fact or an unpleasant reality, it is always the fact or the reality that must give way.
In this case, most independent studies show that a gun is 40 times more likely to be used against one’s self, a family member or another loved one than it is in self-defense.
Lucas and his fellow travelers want us to focus on the one and ignore the 40.
That’s like saying we ought to celebrate the father of four who spends the family’s rent and food money on lottery tickets and wins a big pot.
That does happen occasionally, but that father is the exception who proves the rule. Most other people who make such a reckless choice end up with homeless and hungry children.
Lucas and his crowd doubtless will see this as an attack on guns.
There are ways for reasonable people to curtail gun-related deaths and still protect gun owners’ rights, but that is precisely the kind of conversation Lucas and the firearms industry want to prevent from even getting started.
They’re so determined to keep us from talking about guns that they’ll do anything.
Such as insult a rape survivor.
And not even realize that’s what they’re doing.
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.