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Op-Ed: Why I Just Joined the NRA
by Wayne Root
I'm not your typical NRA member. I'm Jewish, Ivy League educated (Columbia University, Class of '83, President Obama's classmate), and have been a member of the mainstream media (I started my career as an anchorman and host for CNBC, then called Financial News Network). Also unusual, I joined the NRA in the days after the Sandy Hook, Connecticut tragedy.
Here are the reasons why.
First, I believe it's clear that our politicians have come to all the wrong conclusions. Why would we rush to ban guns, when almost all of our mass murders and most of our violent crimes occur in places with the strictest gun control? Why rush to create more "Gun Free Zones" when the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred in a "Gun Free Zone?" This response makes absolutely no sense.
The worst violent crime and murder rates in America occur in places with the strictest gun control already in place - Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, and Washington D.C. Strict gun control clearly does not work. It only disarms the honest, law-abiding citizens, who are left helpless and defenseless. Criminals never have a problem acquiring guns. Therefore gun laws are not only useless, they are dangerous.
But don't just look at big cities in America. Let's look across the Atlantic Ocean for the best example. Our friend and ally England has a complete ban on guns. No UK citizen can carry a gun. Period. Not a one. Result? The UK violent crime rate is 3 1/3 times higher than America. The FBI reports 386 violent crimes per 100,000 in the USA. The UK Home Office reports 1,361 violent crimes per 100,000 in England. Gun control may be a failure, but the UK experience proves that outright gun bans are an unmitigated disaster.
But this is nothing new. Leftist, big government, Nanny State politicians always come to the wrong conclusion about most issues.
Groucho Marx said it best:
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying all the wrong remedies."
Rahm Emanuel put it differently, "Never let a crisis go to waste." Our leftist big government politicians are trying to turn a terrible tragedy into a gun crisis. Their solution is to try to demonize and ban guns. But the Newtown tragedy wasn't a gun problem, it was a mental illness problem.
Thank goodness the American public has more common sense than the politicians and media big shots. A recent Rasmussen poll shows that while 27% think stricter gun control laws are the solution, a dominant 48% believe the answer is more action to treat mental health issues.
It is obvious that many Americans agree that guns do much more than kill (in the wrong hands). More often than not, they save lives and prevent violence.
Here are a few proven facts that are too often missing from the gun debate (Thanks to Gun Owners of America and ZeroHedge.com for these statistics):
Based on a 2000 study, Americans use guns to defend themselves from crime and violence 989,883 times annually. Banning guns would leave about 1,000,000 Americans defenseless from criminals who have no problem acquiring guns illegally.
A nationwide survey reported over a five-year period 3.5% of households had a member who used a gun to protect themselves, their family, or their property. This also adds up to about the same 1,000,000 incidents annually.
Each year about 200,000 women use a gun to defend themselves from a sexual crime or abuse.
The Carter Justice Department found that of more than 32,000 attempted rapes, 32% were actually committed. But when a woman was armed with a gun or knife, only 3% of the attempted rapes were actually successful.
Newer studies all point towards a figure of 2.5 million- that's the new expert guesstimate of how many times Americans defend themselves from violent criminals each year. Guns save lives.
Now that we've polled the citizens, how about we see what the felons have to say:
A survey of male felons in 11 state prisons across the USA found that 34% had been scared off, wounded or captured by an armed victim of their crime.
69% of felons knew other fellow criminals who had been scared off or captured by an armed victim.
57% of felons polled agreed that "criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police."
These facts (and many more too voluminous to show here) prove that guns- in the right hands- defend citizens, families and children. In short, guns save lives.
But for me, it's always been a personal and emotional argument, even more than a factual one. I'm a proud Jewish American. Over six million of my fellow Jews were enslaved, starved, tortured, and then slaughtered by Adolph Hitler. Before it could happen, in 1938, Hitler banned gun ownership for Jews.
The reality is that throughout history, the first thing all tyrants do, is disarm the citizens. Then the mass killings begin.
In the end we all have to remember our second amendment was not put in place to protect us from criminals and random crime. It was put in place to protect us from our own government.
Thomas Jefferson put it best: "When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
That's why I just joined the NRA. It turns out I had lots of company- the NRA has gained 100,000 new members since the Sandy Hook tragedy.
I'll be glad to give up my guns when the elites in D.C. and Hollywood agree to disarm their bodyguards. And when President Obama stops sending his precious little girls to the exclusive Sidwell Friends School, which has a 9-person armed security force.
For all of these reasons, that's why now more than ever, we need to protect the second amendment. That's why now more than ever, we need the NRA.
Click here to read the op-ed at TownHall.com.