Letter to the editor: Second amendment not under attack
To the editor:
If you would believe politicians, the NRA, and some gun extremists, it would seem that our second amendment rights were under attack. But in reality, the exact opposite is happening. For instance, in 1987, only 10 states allowed any kind of concealed carry. Today, 12 states require no permit at all, making carrying a gun in public easier than driving a car. And all remaining states have some kind of concealed carry allowed. Twenty-four states have recently enacted "stand your ground" laws. That hardly sounds like a restriction of gun rights to me.
Many states are also "shall-issue" states (permits are granted by default), limiting ways for officials to keep guns out of dangerous individuals' hands. It's no wonder that literally thousands of felons nationwide have concealed carry permits. In fact, in Texas, permit holders were arrested 81 percent more often than the general population, hardly suggesting they're the "good guy with a gun" we always hear about. Perhaps most troubling, this obsession with the false narrative of gun right erosion has put our law enforcement officers and private citizens in danger - at least 14 officers and 622 other individuals have been killed by permit holders since 2007.
In addition to this burgeoning growth of concealed carry and stand your ground expansions, the Assault Weapons Ban was allowed to expire, netting gun makers a gold-mine in new revenue on designer guns like the AR-15, with thousands of dollars in modifications that can be made.
Gone are the days of inheriting your family hunting rifle: That didn't make the gun industry enough money. Even President Obama signed laws weakening common sense rules around guns on Amtrak trains and in national parks.
But it goes well beyond these laws. Research into gun-related costs to society is banned as are civil liability lawsuits as of 2005. So when 20 families had their young children stolen from them at Sandy Hook, those who profited from their deaths couldn't be held accountable.
Most surveys show that vast majorities of the population support sane, safer regulations to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals, so why do politicians keep giving them expanded access to guns instead? The answer is simple - NRA (gun-industry) pressure in the form of millions upon millions of dollars in political spending for spineless, corrupt politicians willing to sit idly by as 33,000 people die each year and our calls for common sense options are ignored. We deserve better.
But lost in all this laser-focus on gun access issues is the pointlessness of it to begin with. While the NRA keeps triggering a small segment of the populations with false claims of lost rights to keep them up in arms, we continue to experience loss of middle-class jobs, increased income inequality, growing health care costs, crumbling roads, and decreased US competitiveness across the globe (except in gun deaths per capita, where we beat the UK by 45 times and Canada by over 5 times). As the NRA, funded by the gun industry and private mercenary groups like Blackwater, buys the votes of politicians, those same politicians ignore the real problems that face us everyday.
Guns won't fix our underfunded schools, they won't bring better crop prices for our farmers, provide treatment our neighbors suffering from opioid addiction, or fix our water treatment plant in Morris. But legislators, like Rep. Tony Cornish right here in Minnesota, keep introducing and pushing bills written and supported by these extremist groups who put profits over people. Cornish seems to fancy himself a Wild West sheriff and longs for the good old days of duels in the streets. Nevermind that most Wild West towns had stricter gun laws back then than they do now.
All this focus on gun rights does nothing to solve any of the big issues facing the United States, it only helps gun industry profits.
So can we please stop complaining about rights that have greatly expanded, not eroded, and demand our elected officials focus on things that truly help people and improve our country?