Wicked Hearts and Evil Purposes

Are you tired of hearing it, yet? 

Guns are the problem.

The NRA is the problem.

The GOP is the problem.

Well, here’s the deal. What if guns, the NRA or the GOP really were the problem? What if we just abolished all three?

What if we banned all U.S. citizens from having guns — just took them all away? Would we be safer? Would crime stop? Would bad people with evil intentions change their ways? Would violence end?

People like to point to Australia as an example of this all-out gun ban. However, murder was the only serious crime that experienced a consistent decline post-ban. Murder rates dropped 31 percent, from a rate of 1.6 per 100,000 people in 1994 to 1.1 per 100,000 in 2012. In fact, according to the Australian government’s statistics, manslaughter, sexual assault, kidnapping and armed robbery all saw peaks in the years following the firearms ban, and most of these crimes remain near or above pre-ban rates. In the meantime, America was more than doubling the number of firearms manufactured but saw a nearly identical drop in homicides with the use of firearms. So, although Australia may have fewer firearms-related murders, when you disarm law-abiding civilians, violent crime increases because there is nothing to deter criminals. And as the country has seen, a criminal with a knife will still rob, rape and kill.

What if we got rid of the NRA — just shut down the whole organization? Would all guns disappear? Would murders suddenly end? Would children in gun-free zones be completely safe and protected because this educational organization was gone?

The National Rifle Association was started to educate and inform. Specifically, union veterans began the NRA in order to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,” as one of the founders wrote. And this organization with more than 5 million members continues its commitment to training, education and marksmanship to this day. Thousands of classes, events, shows and meetings occur all over the U.S. every year, but none have ever reported any incidents of violence with firearms.

Of course, education and training are not all the NRA does. It has grown and expanded to include the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), established in 1975. The ILA is the lobbying arm for the NRA, responsible for the legislative, political and legal arenas. It’s this arm that supports and fights for responsible, law-abiding gun owners, not criminals.

What if we outlawed the GOP — just said people can’t be part of government anymore if they are Republican? No more Grand Old Party. Would our nation come together? Would we be united? Would all the problems just go away?

Organized political parties have played an interesting role in our country because they’re intended to promote political competition and accountability. But we know problems would continue to occur with or without the fearless elephant and the two-party system. The important thing to note in this case is that guns are not a political thing: They’re an American thing. Libertarians believe that every person has the right to arm himself or herself in self-defense. The New Independent Party believes that the Constitution guarantees individual citizens the right to bear arms. There is also a large amount of Democrat gun owners. And while most people are quick to suggest that most liberals would rather ban guns, many liberals are interested in gun safety and support the use of firearms. And what about groups like The Liberal Gun Club, a gun-advocacy group whose membership ranges from socialists to anarchists to Reagan Democrats?

The thing is, guns alone are not the problem. They never have been. It’s the person holding the firearm who poses any potential problems. Only the person with the weapon (whether it’s a knife, a pen, a vehicle or any other object) can actually use that tool to either do good or do evil. And getting rid of tools, organizations or even political parties can never solve the problems of wicked hearts and evil purposes.

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