On this one year remembrance of the horrific mass killing at Parkland School,
where 17 lives were stolen from their families, my sympathy goes out to everyone
in this nation who has suffered from gun violence. Because of our obsession with
guns, and our ridiculously lax laws on access to guns, we in the United States have the highest incidence of death by gun than any other country in the world except Brazil, and twice the rates of the nearest competitor. More homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths by gun than any other country in the world bar one. 1,300 kids are killed every year in this country by guns, and nearly 5,800 are injured. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for children in this country, over 51% of those by gun. There are ER doctors in major cities throughout the world who have never seen a gunshot injury in their long careers. Imagine that.

Today we mourn for the victims of the shooting in Parkland, and all of the other
useless, preventable shootings and deaths at schools across the country.

How did we let ourselves get here? How does this nation and our state, who screams pro-life, sit idly by while our children die gruesome deaths? We can’t answer that question without having a frank and transparent discussion about the National Rifle Association. Let’s talk about the NRA, and their ability to leverage fear and power over politicians in this country to drive a policy of death.

Let’s understand the NRA, not the jovial, member supported and member-run association of hunters and sportsman, originally created to promote gun safety education and training, and who used to tout its independence from corporate interests, but the current NRA, the front group for multi-national weapons manufactures, bent on increasing their sales of firearms, and especially assault style guns, in this gullible, gun addicted market of the United States.

They do this by pushing the politics of fear, and controlling the politicians that
make the laws through threats, coercion, and strategic legal bribes – called campaign contributions, as well as the not so legal influence of dumping money, donated from gun manufacturers around the world, in an effort to control politicians to their benefit.. The NRA spent over $50 million in the 2016 elections. And it’s working. We are letting it work.

Over the last 10 years these contributions to the NRA have increased over 60%,
most of the money funding the NRAs activities came from gun manufacturers, Beretta, Sturm Rugar, Glock, SIG Sauer, Midway, Springfield, Smith & Wesson. Brazil, Belgium, Austria, Italy.

Is the NRA to blame? Absolutely. They are consistently socially irresponsible, they take advantage of our campaign finance laws to promote the interest of weapons manufacturers that pad their pockets, and threaten and carry out retribution on individuals – including families of victims and politicians – that try to fight their agenda.

Some say it is a constitutional issue — that the 2nd amendment is written to guarantee an absolute right to gun ownership, one that the federal or state government couldn’t limit in any way. This was a radical reinterpretation of what had been the common perception of the 2nd amendment for nearly two centuries.

Let’s set aside the fact that in the late 1700’s a firearm was a single shot musket. For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as NOT placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation. In 1939 the Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress COULD prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated militia.”

During the years when Warren Burger was chief justice of the Supreme Court, from 1969 to 1986, no judge, federal or state, expressed any doubt as to the limited coverage of that amendment. When organizations like the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and began their campaign claiming that federal regulation of firearms curtailed Second Amendment rights, Chief Justice Burger publicly characterized the NRA as perpetrating “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

But the National Rifle Association is only partly to blame. The biggest blame rests with us, the state legislators that are charged with writing the laws to promote the protection and interests, the health and well being of our citizens.

Some of you are true believers, I get that, or you cite your interpretation of the constitution. But I also understand how much pressure the NRA places on many of you. The threats to “take you down” or fund and promote primary candidates against you the next time you run for office, if you dare to go against their agenda.

But those threats, the loss of points off your NRA report card, only work on a one on one basis. We can decide, collectively as a body, to take action to reduce this epidemic of gun violence. We can say our children’s safety is more important than winning our next election. We can stand up to bullies and say enough is enough. We can shift our responsibility to our citizens, our constituents, and put in law simple measures to reduce access to guns in our society by people who are going to abuse them. Measures that are supported by the majority of Hoosiers – Republicans and Democrats alike. Common sense measures that are supported by a majority of gun owners, including a majority of on-the-ground NRA members. Our people are asking for help.

In this republic, the responsibility rests with us, the state legislators. We can’t kick the can down the road from here. It is up to us, it is up to you.