Whenever some fruitcake with a cache of guns opens fire and takes out innocents, the gun nuts trot out the tied old argument that more people die in car accidents than in gun-related incidents.
Yeah, a lot of people die on the road.
There are more than 250 million vehicles registered in the United States and most Americans spend hours every day on the road. Most vehicle-related deaths come from accidents. They don’t come from some loon driving his Hummer into a crowded movie theater and snuffing out a dozen lives while leaving 50 or so wounded.
True, some people use vehicles for homicidal purposes but many more turn to a loaded weapon that uses gunpowder to discharge a projectile with a singular purpose — to inflict damage on a target.
Pick up any issue of the National Rifle Association‘s slick monthly magazine, American Rifleman, and you find a regular monthly feature with stories about “armed citizens” defending their homes against robbers, invaders and other miscreants. But you won’t find any mention of the armed father who shot into the dark and killed his daughter coming home late from a date or the drunk husband who pulled out his gun and blew away his wife in an argument.
The presence of a gun creates a strong possibility of escalation of violence in too many situations.
Those who support the concept of a fully-armed society argue that if members of the audience in the theater in Aurora, Colorado, had been armed they could have taken out the shooter and saved lives.
How? James Holmes was wearing body armor and had tossed gas canisters that obscured everyone’s vision and created chaos. A theater of armed civilians firing willy-nilly could have taken out more movie goers and the chance of some poorly-trained citizen with a concealed carry permit taking out a determined gunman in the dark is a NRA-induced fantasy.
In Virginia, a resident can get a concealed carry permit simply by taking a short, on-line course via computer with no training, no requirement to prove the ability to safely handle a pistol or shoot accurately.
In Virginia, with one of the heaviest base of armed civilians in the nation, gun-related deaths outnumber motor vehicle demises.
Virginia is not alone. Federal government studies show nine other states with gun deaths outnumbering those involving motor vehicles. The NRA’s response: The data is flawed. Funny how data that pokes hole in an organization is always “flawed” while the same organization trots out often-discredited studies to supports its questionable version of “the truth.”
But what else can you expect from the NRA, the powerful lobbying group that last year installed right-winger David Keene as President.
Keene was the longtime chairman of the American Conservative Union and a key organizer of the Conservative Police Action Conference (CPAC) an annual gathering of the rabid right in Washington.
Keene knows a thing or two about handgun violence. His son, David Michael Keene, went to the slammer for a decade following a 2002 conviction of opening fire in a road rage incident with a motorist on the George Washington Parkway in Northern Virginia.
Capitol Hill Blue reporter Cindy Morris reported on Dec. 18, 2002:
David Michael Keene, the prominent national conservative activist’s son charged in a road rage shooting on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, was institutionalized with “severe emotional problems” seven times between the ages of 8 and 13, his mother said Tuesday.
“He’s had a continuing problem with impulse control, and an exaggerated belief that he was in more danger than he was in at times, causing him to respond in a way that was more excessive or out of line with what was going on,” Keene’s mother, Diana Carr, told reporters outside the U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Carr said the gun was registered in Keene’s name and added that her son and his fiance were on their way to “target practice” at the time of the incident. Current federal state and gun laws prohibit sale and registration of firearms to persons who have been hospitalized with mental problems. A law enforcement source said they are investigating to see if Keene withheld information about his mental history when he purchased the firearm.
At the young Keene was working for his pop at ACU. The NRA says he answer to gun violence is enforcement of existing laws, not new restrictions. Enforcement of existing laws didn’t keep David Michael Keene from owning a gun and using it to try an kill someone simply because the other person pissed him off on the road. Enforcement of existing gun laws didn’t keep James Holmes from obtaining guns and amassing thousands of rounds of ammo and a high-capacity magazine for his assault-style rifle.
Obviously, Keene’s parents — including the father who would later become President of the NRA — knew about their son’s tattered mental history and, yet, also knew he owned a gun in violation of the law.
And we’re supposed to believe the propaganda from a organization run by a man who looked the other way when his son violated existing gun laws.
Which brings up an interesting question. If young Keene had succeeded in killing the object of his wrath in the road rage incident would the NRA had listed that death of a result of guns or motor vehicles?
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of this article is a Virginia resident, a gun owner and the holder of a concealed carry permit)