Many variables contribute to the U.S.’s embarrassingly high annual gun deaths. There are loopholes that allow buyers to bypass background checks, an underlying cultural obsession with firearms, and then there is the NRA, keeping pesky legislation from interfering with increasingly lucrative gun sales. One high school teacher, however, is rallying to take a stand against their blood-soaked profit margin.
Seth Needler teaches science at Reynolds High School, where America saw the 74th school shooting since Sandy Hook. After the shooter, Jared Padgett, killed one of his classmates last week, Needler wrote a lengthy post on social media describing his terror as he and his students huddled in their darkened classroom, fearing for their lives.
Now, he is calling for action. Needler has even offered his own outline for tightening security on gun sales. He was critical of the NRA for not allowing such common sense steps to be taken already, stating:
[box type=”shadow”]I’m sick and tired of hearing gun enthusiasts claim that any kind of gun regulation is an attack on the second amendment, or that the solution to gun violence is more guns” he wrote. “I completely fail to understand how one organization, which is the lobbying arm of one industry, can control every politician in Congress to the extent of preventing any action at all on gun control, even after polls show that 90% of Americans are in favor of it.
But every time another shooting happens, and undoubtedly this will be no exception, people (including me and my family and friends) sigh, groan, bemoan the incident, talk about how awful it is, criticize the NRA and its lopsided influence, and then do…nothing. The only constituency that responds with any energy to incidents of gun violence is gun enthusiasts, who declare that it just provides more proof of their hypothesis that schools need to be staffed with U.S. Marshalls and teachers need to be armed and carry loaded weapons. Rather than stricter gun regulation, we get weakening of the existing regulation, and states literally pushing each other out of the way to be the most liberal when it comes to who can carry weapons into how many different venues, including churches, schools and even bars.
Here’s my proposed gun regulation:
To buy a gun, you need 3 letters of recommendation: One from a family member, one from a friend, and one from a co-worker. If your family doesn’t trust you, you have no friends, and your co-workers don’t know you well enough to trust you, then you shouldn’t be able to own a gun.
I also think prospective gun owners should have to undergo a rigorous gun-safety training, submit to a background check, and meet an age limit, but I’m not an idealist. I think the above is something that every common sense person should be able to agree with. I’m not a lawyer or politician, so I’m sure my idea will be mocked for its naiveté, criticized for its lack of practicality when not even much weaker rules can get a hearing in Congress, and ignored in any case, since no one takes gun control seriously in America.
However, I intend tomorrow to begin contacting my representatives in government. I’m going to ask them to sign on to a pledge called the “No Gun Pledge.” Like the no tax pledge that all the conservatives sign on to, this pledge would say: “I will never vote for any legislation that relaxes or weakens gun regulations, or increases access to guns, or makes it easier to bring military assault-style weapons to market.”
I can’t sit around anymore and do nothing. I encourage anyone reading this to take action also. Politicians say all the time that they get far more calls from their pro-gun constituents than the other 90% of us. Nothing will change without a massive, concerted uprising from us, the people.
Not too many years ago, big tobacco was a political third rail, like the NRA is today. But they were brought down by a nationwide effort, endless lawsuits and ultimately the intervention of Congress, spurred by relentless public pressure. People can still smoke cigarettes. They are expensive, everybody knows they’re bad for you, and you can’t smoke wherever you want. Smokers have to stand outside when it’s cold and endure the glares of others when they stand too close to a public doorway or litter their butts on the ground. But no Constitutional rights have been infringed, and the tobacco companies still make huge profits.
Isn’t it time to put the NRA in its place? If not now, when?
There is much to be done before Americans can enjoy the same safety from firearm mortalities that other developed countries have. However, any progress is better than the inaction currently being encouraged (and funded) by the NRA. This teacher is acting as a mouthpiece for America’s frustrated yet numbed majority in favor of basic control, and should be commended for his bravery and initiative.[/box]