WASHINGTON — Talk about power: The gun lobby barely had to say a word before the media sent advocates of saner gun regulation shuffling off in defeat.
In a political version of Stockholm syndrome, even those who claim to disagree with the National Rifle Association’s absolutist permissiveness on firearms lulled themselves into accepting the status quo by reciting a script of gutless resignation dictated by the merchants of death.
It’s a script built on half-truths and myths. For example, polls showing declining support for gun control in the abstract were widely cited, while polls showing broad backing for carefully tailored laws were largely ignored.
Arguments that gun regulation won’t accomplish anything were justified with citations of academic studies that offer mixed or inconclusive verdicts. In the wake of last week’s killings in Colorado, these studies were deployed to hide the elephant in the room: that our country is the scene of more gun deaths than any other wealthy nation in the world. And it isn’t even close.
A study last year in the Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care analyzed gun death statistics for 2003 from the World Health Organization Mortality Database. It found that 80 percent of all firearms deaths in 23 industrialized countries occurred in the United States. For women, the figure rose to 86 percent; for children 14 and under, to 87 percent. Can anyone seriously claim that our comparatively lax gun laws had nothing to do with these blood-drenched data?
Some of the evasions are couched in compassion. We are told that the real answer to mass slaughter lies not in better gun statutes but in more attentiveness to those afflicted with psychological problems.