It took the U.S. a long time to force the tobacco industry to admit that their products were killing people and even longer to convince people that they would die from using tobacco. Some people still aren't convinced.
Guns in the wrong hands are more dangerous than cancer, so is it now the gun industry that has some 'splainin' to do? Well, it would do no good to put danger labels on guns. So we need to neutralize the virtual weapons the industry is using. And the primary weapon, wielded through the industry's proxy (the National Rifle Association), is money.
The NRA has LOTS of money
Although the NRA relies on many sources for its income, one of its primary sources is the gun industry. Not making enough money from hunters and target-shooting enthusiasts, the gun industry is getting the NRA to do the dirty work of convincing people not only that they personally need guns, but also that it's their patriotic duty to own as many as possible.
From Business Insider:
"Since 2005, the gun industry and its corporate allies have given between $20 million and $52.6 million ... through the NRA Ring of Freedom sponsor program. Donors include firearm companies like Midway USA, Springfield Armory Inc, Pierce Bullet Seal Target Systems, and Beretta USA Corporation. Other supporters from the gun industry include Cabala's, Sturm Rugar & Co, and Smith & Wesson."
From The Atlantic:
"Between  and 2011... the firearms industry donated as much as $38.9 million to the NRA's coffers. The givers include 22 different gun makers, including famous names like Smith & Wesson, Beretta USA, SIGARMS, and Sturm, Ruger & Co...."
What do they do with this money?
They advertise. There are ads everywhere there can be ads making gun use look fun, sexy, and necessary. Many of these ads are political. According to the LA Times, the NRA spent almost four times as much money opposing Barack Obama as they did supporting Mitt Romney in 2012, and nearly twice as much opposing Hillary Clinton as supporting Donald Trump in 2016.
They bribe legislators. The value of bribes going from the NRA to legislators is, by any standard, extravagant. Even if we look at only the top 10 senators and representatives who've accepted NRA money, the total is more than $47 million.
MAKE IT STOP!
What can we do? In the words of Bruce Cockburn: "Kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight."
How do we do that? It's obvious that without legal controls, U.S. citizens will arm themselves to the teeth before they walk into a Walmart to buy yet another gun. So we need well-considered legislation to be enacted. This means we need legislators to value votes higher than bribes.
1. Let legislators know we're watching. Identify and shame the legislators who offer "thoughts and prayers" and then take NRA money.
Use this map to see which of your state's representatives have accepted NRA money, and how much. Then write them a check with the words "Thoughts and Prayers" written into both dollar amount fields, and send it along with a note saying you know they will value this contribution even more than the [dollar amount] they've taken from the NRA.
2. Vote. That means all of us. That means this year, November, 2018. We know the NRA will be pouring massive amounts of money into the effort to maintain Republican majorities everywhere this year. But this money will be wasted if we vote out of office any legislator (no matter the party) who accepts NRA bribes and refuses to kick at the darkness of gun madness with legislation.
Many legislators who get NRA money are already drinking the Kool-Aid. They're interpreting the Second Amendment as though guns haven't changed since 1776. These people have failed at their job of public service. They need to go.
What else needs to change? Here are a few actions we can demand legislators take:
- End the sale of guns without background checks
- End gun shows where anyone can buy anything
- Criminalize private ownership of semi-automatic and automatic weapons
- Criminalize the sale of multi-round ammo clips
- Radically increase the cost of ammunition with a heavy tax
And to anyone who wants to carry around a weapon that will kill multiple people with an ejaculative spurt of a large number of bullets: U.S. Army recruiters would like to talk to you.