Commentary: Time to push past NRA rhetoric and have real conversation about guns

By John Krull

John Krull, publisher,

John Krull, publisher,

INDIANAPOLIS – The shootings in Indiana’s own Elkhart gave Americans and Hoosiers a look at the National Rifle Association’s solution to the problem of gun violence in action.

Commentary button in JPG - no shadowA disturbed young man who had an apparent fascination with serial killers went in to a grocery store and killed a store employee and a customer. While the killer held his gun on the store manager, police quickly and bravely shot him dead.

The NRA and its flacks would say that outcome demonstrates that their solution works.

Good guys with guns came and shot a bad guy with a gun. The two people who died before the good guys could get there presumably are acceptable losses in the service of keeping the flow of guns in this country free and undiminished.

The family and friends of the victims might disagree.

And the dead, of course, no longer can speak for themselves.

Every time I – or anyone else – writes or talks about guns and puts the words “sensible,” “gun” and “laws” within 10 paragraphs of each other, the flacks for the gun lobby and their true-believing followers start yelling like 2-year-olds who have been deprived of sleep. They claim that anyone who is concerned about the tragic levels of gun violence in our country and who doesn’t believe exactly what the NRA and other gun groups tell them to believe is irrational, unreasonable and unthinking.

One of the loudest is Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, who recently authored a bill that would allow students, faculty and community members to bring firearms to school and keep them locked up in their cars. (It’s interesting to note that, at a time, when most parents want to see guns kept as far away from school as possible, Lucas is going the other direction and trying to bring them closer).

Every time I write about guns, Lucas responds with a howl that I’m bullying the poor, beleaguered NRA, which only has a multi-million dollar budget and a small army of lobbyists and message consultants with which to defend the organization’s interests.

In his last agitated response, Lucas said that I hadn’t proposed any solutions to the problem of gun violence.

While he wasn’t entirely accurate – in the past, I’ve given a qualified endorsement to the solution the NRA first endorsed (background checks) and then reneged on – Lucas had a glimmer of an insight. I deliberately haven’t proposed any solutions. In fact, I’ve acknowledged that gun laws might not solve the problem – or might create problems worse than those we currently encounter.

The reason I didn’t propose any solutions is that I wanted the NRA true believers such as Lucas to demonstrate just how unreasonable they will be. I wanted them to make my case for me.

And they have obliged.

Every time someone suggests that guns should be part of a national conversation about the epidemic of gun violence, they shriek like gut-shot hyenas.

The NRA and its fellow travelers propose as solutions to the problem that include placing armed guards in schools and other public places, regulating violent media and drafting new stop-and-search policies.

All I’m saying is that if we’re going to put the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution on the table, then the Second Amendment and guns should be part of the discussion, too.

A few days after the Elkhart tragedy, another apparently disturbed young man went into a classroom at Purdue University and shot another student dead before surrendering himself to police. It was the 35th school shooting in the 13 months since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The tragic events in Elkhart and West Lafayette gave us three more reasons to discuss ways that we can make our communities, our states and our country safer. It is time for people of good faith to gather and search for solutions. Even if we cannot find answers, we owe it to ourselves and those we care about to try.

The NRA and its foot soldiers in Congress and our state legislature will do everything they can to stop us from having that discussion if it includes guns.

And the dead no longer can speak for themselves.

So it is up to the rest of us to do our duty and force the conversation.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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10 Responses to Commentary: Time to push past NRA rhetoric and have real conversation about guns

  1. Concerned Citizen

    “All I’m saying is that if we’re going to put the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution on the table, then the Second Amendment and guns should be part of the discussion, too.”

    And there’s the problem, that type of thinking. Our rights should NEVER EVER be “On the table”.

  2. Mr. Krull, your written insults toward gun owners expose your hypocrisy. Because of this perpetual habit you and your fellow anti’s maintain, there will never be a conversation. Hell, you folks can’t even describe what it is that you want to restrict or ban.

    • Here’s a start: Stop sales of military assault weapons and large capacity magazines to civilians and conduct background checks for sales at gun shows.

      • Concerned Citizen


      • Here is a clue for you.

        In 1934 Congress passed the “National Firearms Act”, which severely restricts the sale of military weapons to civilians. You can get one, but the process is long and expensive.

        Standard magazines range in size from 6 rounds to 40. Large capacity carry as many as 100. So, pick a number. I can live without the 100 round magazine, darn things are heavy, just leave the standard capacity one’s alone.

        Any firearm purchased from a retailer at a gun show requires the retailer to conduct a NICS check (Federal law). Your “gun show loophole” is no more than anti-gun propaganda and has never really existed.

  3. What rhetoric ? The NRA is a civil rights organization dedicated to protect the Second Amendment and provide real firearm safety programs for millions of law enforcement and citizens. They are not hiding who they are.

    Liberal articles like this serve no purpose other than strengthening our resolve. We understand you true intention is total civilian disarmament.

    Look at your article above. A legal concealed carry citizen may have prevented a mass murder, saved untold lives and yet you still want to disarm all law abiding citizens. Liberal democrats are not in this to protect citizens … They are pushing this gun grabbing agenda in order to promote their own power over the citizens.

    The NRA and the American people are not radical. We want nothing more than peace and to go about our lives. It is the progressive liberals who are behaving radical. Power hungry politicians emboldened by a kept media and out of control administration. We are not buying your

  4. Pro 2a supporters are on to the tactics of gun grabbers talking about “common sense” solutions. We all know that when leftists are in control their “common sense” solutions end up with citizens having firearms being declared unlawful and subject to confiscation. This is now paranoia but rather us simply reading the news about confiscations OCCURRING TODAY in NY, CT, and CA. So we are on to the lies of the left and our unified response to the lie of “common sense laws” is a huge resounding reply of NO!!!

  5. “epidemic of gun violence” – no such thing exists. All criminal violence is at a 30 year low, including “gun violence”. Violence tends to track legal gun ownership in reverse. More guns less crime. This is mainly in the fact that guns are used to stop criminal violence many more times than used to create violence.
    The other really mis-leading approach by this story is that the author uses the phase “gun violence” as a problem, in truth, we should not care about the tool used in criminal violence. We want to reduce “criminal violence” in all forms and shapes.