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Cover Story | In What World Will You Live?

Cover Story | In What World Will You Live?

When Republican congressmen were targeted at a baseball diamond, Americans were confronted with a stark choice: Would we go forward living in a fantasy, or would we choose the real world?

This feature appears in the August ’17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.

The day that Republican members of Congress were attacked while they practiced for an annual charity baseball game, Dan Gross, the head of the Brady Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence, sent out a press release, saying, “All Americans, including our elected leaders, should live in an environment where they can pursue everyday activities without fear of being shot.”

If there was ever a useless statement of wishful thinking, this was it.

At the least, it is puerile: Only a child believes that a carefree life in a world safe from violence is a reasonable expectation. At the worst, it is manipulative: Gross hopes to spin the raw emotions spawned by terror to serve his political agenda, which is to restrict firearm freedoms into oblivion.

Implicit in his statement is the assumption that Gross knows how to lead us to this violence-free utopia, which would make him exactly the first person in humankind to ever know such a thing. In fact, he’s so certain, he didn’t even need to know what was happening on that distant baseball field: He posted mere minutes after Alexandria police received reports of the attack. Though he prefaced his statement with, “While the details are still unfolding,” it didn’t diminish his certainty. When your simplistic answer to all such tragedies is “get rid of the guns,” self-assurance is the norm.

Gross is playing an old con, hoping fear will nudge us to buy safety at the expense of our rights. By his reckoning, why, any act of social engineering can be justified by merely stating we “should” live in a world without misfortune. After all, it feels so … noble … to engage in such rhetorical nonsense. In truth, there is no evidence that we should—because it has never occurred in human history.

Only a child believes that a carefree life in a world safe from violence is a reasonable expectation.It doesn’t even make any sense to counter him by saying we should live in a world with calamity. In the real world, “should” has nothing to do with it: We just do.

I don’t live in Gross’s world. No one does.

In some people’s worlds, it’s acceptable to blame the victim—if you don’t like the victim in the first place.

Twitter users like to refer to the “Twitterverse,” making it seem larger than the world. Some took to Twitter to express their glee in blaming Majority Whip Steve Scalise for his life-threatening injury:

“Sending Steve Scalise the same empty ‘thoughts and prayers’ he offers gun victims while taking tens of thousands of dollars from the #nra.”

“Is it too soon to point out that Scalise has an A+ rating from the @nra?”

While this is disgusting, blaming the victim takes on an even darker tone when it comes from media outlets who broadcast the same sentiments, only slightly veiled, under cover of the credibility of journalism.

Recently reassigned CBS News anchor Scott Pelley and others suggested that the critically wounded Scalise might have had it coming. “It’s time to ask whether the attack on the United States Congress, yesterday, was foreseeable, predictable and, to some degree, self-inflicted,” wrote Pelley, while Scalise was fighting for his life.

MSNBC’s Joy Reid did more than suggest that Scalise had it coming: “Rep. #Scalise was shot by a white man with a violent background, and saved by a black lesbian police officer, and yet …” followed by a graphic of his voting record on marriage, health care and the semi-automatic ban.

Other outlets broadcasted from a world where everything is morally equivalent. NPR, which has become a de facto publicly funded broadcast arm of the Resist movement, “fact-checked” the thought that left-wing violence might be on the rise: “The far left is very active in the United States, but it hasn’t been particularly violent for some time.” Of course, that’s coming from a far left news outlet.

NPR compared the NRA, whom it labeled “far-right,” to the violent “far-left” Antifa (Anti-Fascists), who hide their faces behind black masks while burning, looting and rioting. This absurd claim is directly refuted by the 2017 NRA Annual Meetings in Atlanta, which were peacefully attended by more than 80,000 members.

“When an attack came and they returned fire, they would probably kill or wound not the assailant but another innocent bystander, as studies have repeatedly shown.” — The New York Times on armed citizensLeftist protestors at Berkeley and other college campuses, and those marching in the streets with the Resist movement, claim violence is justified when faced with the policies of the Trump administration. In their world, burning a storefront is a proper response when you’re offended by speech with which you disagree.

I hope they find that, in the real world, burning a storefront gets you significant prison time.

                           ________________________

The New York Times also lives in its own world—in which its opinion rules without dispute. Writing about the attack, the Times mused that “an American would once have been horrified and shocked by such savagery,” the editorial board’s apparent omniscience giving them license to voice our collective emotional state.

Like Gross, the Times had no need to wait for bothersome facts to be revealed (“Not all the details are known yet …”) before it fingered the culprit. First, though, the newspaper had to dispense with the notion that violent leftist rhetoric could have been a contributor. “Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably.” At this point, one could have reasonably expected the Times to list examples of leftist intolerance such as Kathy Griffin, who held up a bloody facsimile of President Trump’s severed head, or New York’s own Public Theater, which nightly carves up an actor dressed as Trump in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

But no, the Times cited the 2011 shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords, which it blamed on Sarah Palin’s PAC for distributing an election map with crosshairs. Later, the Times had to print a correction, admitting that there was never any link between the two—which must have been inconvenient for the Paper That Plays God.

But, never mind all that: The Times bellowed, “Was this attack evidence of how readily available guns and ammunition are in the United States? Indisputably.” Well, who would dare argue with a deity?

Allow me. The Times decided to smear Virginia and its gun laws, but failed to mention that the shooter had purchased the firearms used in the shooting in his home state of Illinois.

The Times then furthered a lie about every armed citizen in America: “When an attack came and they returned fire, they would probably kill or wound not the assailant but another innocent bystander, as studies have repeatedly shown.” Which has happened exactly … never, in any mass shooting incident.

The New York Times owes us at least 15 million apologies, one for every concealed-carry permit holder in the nation. However, that number is insignificant to the Times, whose motto should be, “We Are The World.”

Perhaps “We Are Legion” would be more appropriate.

                           ________________________

Politicians like U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., live in a world so tailored to their own beliefs and populated only by the like-minded that it can only be described as a bubble.

“Are we so jaundiced to gun violence and mass shootings that it only takes us 24 hours now to revert back to business as usual? We are becoming massively desensitized to this carnage.” Senator, who is this “we” of which you speak? Respectfully, count us out.

Murphy moans about what he sees as a lack of compassion in his D.C. colleagues: “We’re beyond the place where Washington responds to mass shootings. I mean, we don’t. We don’t. After Orlando and Sandy Hook, that’s clearly not how people’s minds work here.” Translation into real-world speak: I couldn’t get enough people to agree to institute a national gun control regime after those tragedies, so those people must all have some character flaw.

Former U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy agreed: “It’s a shame that nothing is done between these horrible shootings.” Translation: Nothing is done that I want, so no one else must care like I do.

In the end, enough Americans didn’t buy your claim that we’d be safer under your thumb. We voted, and you lost—more than once, I might add.National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke exposed this cycle of self-delusion in a piece titled “Everything Wrong With Our Gun Debate In One Tweet.” He wrote in an email, “These people think they have the answers and that we are debating whether to implement them.”

Note to the anti-gun legislators: You had your opportunity. We all saw the horror, and we all participated in the gut-wrenching, months-long debate that followed. In the end, enough Americans didn’t buy your claim that we’d be safer under your thumb. We voted, and you lost—more than once, I might add.

Contrary to your laments, someone is doing something. And, more to the point, someone has been doing something: Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C. and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced national concealed carry reciprocity months ago; gun sales and manufacturers’ stock prices are on the rise, which is a major disappointment to those who were hoping to enjoy a little post-election schadenfreude; background checks for gun sales are once again setting new records; and millions of Americans are responding to the news of terror attacks both at home and abroad by getting a permit to carry a firearm for self-defense.

However, in Murphy’s world … er, bubble … this is less evidence of “I Was Wrong” and more evidence of “You Just Don’t Get It.” Murphy and others bent on abolishing freedom are frustrated that no event is horrific enough for us to abandon our principles; we just do not believe that legal gun ownership is at fault when a criminal or a madman commits an act of violence.

News flash for Sen. Murphy and Co.: You haven’t cornered the market on compassion. We’re taking reasonable steps to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The only thing we’ve moved on from is you.

                           ________________________

Next door to the bubble world of Murphy and McCarthy is a state—the state of Denial. In this state, the public wants gun control, and the NRA is merely a well-funded bully that stands in the way of what the vast majority of Americans truly want.

Case in point was a June 18 ABC panel, where Democratic pollster Margie Omero scoffed at the idea that it was too soon to push gun control: “We don’t need to wait for more tragedies to take action on guns. This is a way we can be healing because voters are ready.”

Chelsea Parsons, vice president for guns and crime policy at the left-wing Center for American Progress, added, “There’s going to come a breaking point in the disconnect between what Congress is willing to do and what the American people demand.”

CNN Commentator Marc Lamont Hill replied, “This has never been about what most Americans want. We have to find a way to get past the power of particular lobbies if we’re going to get anywhere.”

Residents of the state of Denial believe that 90 percent of Americans support “universal” background checks, even though when asked to vote on the issue, the public never turns out in numbers near that level or are shown as a clear minority; they believe Americans want fewer guns, even while law-abiding citizens are buying guns at record levels; and they believe the NRA derives its magic powers by deceiving gun owners into joining in droves.

This isn’t denial; this is delusional. Somebody should build a wall around this state.

                           ________________________

In truth, a majority of Americans, through their actions, are telling us what world they live in. In their world—the real world—the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

They know a mass shooting has never been made worse by the presence of more guns in the hands of the righteous. They know their guns aren’t responsible for criminal gun homicide, as evidenced by the two-decades long plunge in the national homicide rate, accomplished while gun sales soared.

They realize that the frontlines in the fight against terror—of any sort—are no longer restricted to far-off deserts, or even the streets of Paris, Brussels and London. Violence can reach us at Marine recruiting centers, nightclubs, office holiday parties and baseball diamonds. Knives, backpacks and delivery vans are the new weapons of war. Randomness rules, and relief is never near enough.

They know that only the naïve venture unprepared into such a world, so they are preparing accordingly.

To Gross’s plea that “all Americans, including our elected leaders, should live in an environment where they can pursue every day activities without fear of being shot,” they have a simple, self-evident reply:

“We already do.” 

Clay Turner is the creative director for America’s 1st Freedom magazine, an official journal of the NRA, as well as Americas1stFreedom.org.