So with the new round of gun control debates emerging after the tragic massacre in Sandy Hook, I started thinking about who has something to lose in this fight? The more I thought about this, the more I realized that this social problem goes way beyond the NRA buying politicians to protect the gun industry.
So many people are making their livings from the fear industry that it's just about impossible to follow all that money. When criminals pay a few hundred dollars to buy the guns they use to commit violent acts, the rest of us react by spending billions on police, courts, lawyers, judges, jails, prison guards, plus all the contractors needed to build the jails, feed the prisoners, equip the officers and so on. So we have lots of very good, patriotic and decent citizens profiting heavily from gun violence.
And this goes way beyond the justice industry. Shooting victims who die need coffins, urns and funeral services, none of which are cheap, but those expenses pale in comparison to the costs incurred by those who survive a shooting. Just try to tote up the bills that guns generate for ambulances, EMTs, trauma centers, surgeons, nurses, neurologists, orthopedists and rehab specialists. Plus the costs of medications, psychotherapy, wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs and other medical products the wounded may require.
The tragedy and gore of violent crime also fuels the entire local broadcast news industry (print too, but to a lesser degree). Just try to imagine your nightly local news without the breathless crime coverage that tops the broadcast whether crime rates are up, down or unchanged. So let's add a legion of reporters, producers, anchors and camera people to the fear industry. Cha-ching!
Meanwhile, the relentless and alarming crime coverage, multiplied by the personal experiences of crime victims, drives demand for multiple locks, cages over doors and windows, security alarms, metal detectors, video surveillence cameras everywhere we go, and more guns, guns, guns. Isn't it interesting how so many people who stand up for the rights of gun owners have so little to say about the intrusion of the surveillance society? Worried about crime? Your friendly neighborhood security company is standing by!
And now, the NRA's answer to post-Sandy Hook calls for bans against assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines is to put armed security guards in our elementary schools. Did you know we have more than 100,000 public and private grade schools in America? Supplying them with security guards would create a new domestic protection force roughly equal in size to FIVE US Army divisions. Now THAT's a jobs program!
So the "conservative" response to one nut with four or five guns is to buy another 100,000 weapons to protect our schools. This is just one of many oh-so-brilliant ideas brought to you by the special interest industry that spends millions on lawyers, lobbyists and political (dis)information campaigns. How many advertising agencies, printers, media conglomerates and social media gurus are cashing in on all this fear?
We all know this country is way too violent. And we all know that nothing much is going to be done about it. Why? Because fear sells. Just follow the money, and the answer will be revealed.