As I reflect on the gun march of last weekend, several things become clear. The people marching did not know anything about guns except that someone told them to be against guns. They did not know anything about gun laws except they want them changed. They did not know anything about purchasing a gun, at all. They did not know anything about the National Rifle Association and probably didn’t even know for which NRA stands.
I am certain they did not know the NRA was formed in 1871 through an act of Congress to promote firearms ownership and marksmanship, and they are doing a pretty good job of that. They wanted changes to the NCIS background check program but were again pretty hazy on what that entailed. I am sure that they do not know the biggest problem with the program is getting government agencies to actually update the database. The agencies tasked with updating and maintaining the program simply do not do it, and there is no penalty for failing to do so.
A great lesson would be what led up to the Parkland school shooting. Nick Cruz was a violent troubled boy and apparently was for several years, and no one did anything. Depending on the report you read, the sheriff’s office was called on him between 20 and 40 times, and no one did anything. No arrest. No charges. No prosecution. There was apparently an effort to have him committed to a mental institution, but it was not followed through, or perhaps, since there were no real legal follow-ups, there was no evidence for a finding.
He may have been given anti-depressants with the side effects of “thoughts of suicide or violent behavior,” which is a typical warning when giving these to young people. He was violent at home, at school and other places, but no one filed a restraining order. He had been on the FBI’s radar at least twice, once for a posting he wanted to be a ‘professional school shooter,’ and once when a friend turned him in for threats of shooting up the school.
And again, no one did anything. Adult, responsible follow up on any of these areas could have prevented Cruz from getting a gun. But doing their job was not a priority for any of these agencies. Tell me again how changing the law will make this better. But it seems the fault would lie with the NRA, 100 million responsible gun owners and me.
But there were some interesting numbers and ironies that came from the march. Marchers were throwing around the number of “46 kids a day” are killed by guns. First, I will ask the definition of “kids.” This number totals more than all firearms homicides plus all accidental shootings and would be eating up a good bit of the suicides. Perhaps their definition of child includes 19-26-year-old drug dealers and gang members but not actual children. Another irony was to see the organization responsible for almost 900 child deaths a day was present in the march against gun deaths. That is more than 30 times the number of all firearms deaths. But they wanted to be counted as against killing children.
I could keep going but will point out one more thing. The march was supposedly to protest gun violence, but they never once mentioned violence or its causes. Of course, if they had done so, it might have pointed the finger toward a permissive society that not only allows, but encourages, the type behavior that leads to violence. They talked about banning ugly guns, mean guns but never once mentioned working to stop the causes of violence.
But then that may well have been the point.