Before I begin this column, I need to make it clear that I am not an advocate for either side in the gun debate. The fact that I agree and promote many gun-control strategies doesn’t make me a hostage of Mike Bloomberg, nor am I a stooge for the NRA jut because I have been a member of the organization since I was eleven years old. On the other hand, when I discover an organizational development that fits my perspective for what to do about gun violence, I’m not going to hold back.
And what I recently discovered was an organization, Americans Against Gun Violence, started by a retired ER doctor in California, Bill Durston, who just happens to be a former Marine decorated for ‘courage under fire’ during the Viet Nam war. Bill started his group because he would like to see ‘definitive action’ taken against gun violence, and while he and his members support the ‘reasonable’ public measures being advocated by other organizations – background checks, red-flag laws, blah, blah, blah and blah, this group also has a much different agenda.
To put it bluntly: what Bill and his folks say is that we will reduce gun violence by doing the same thing that every other advanced country has done; namely, create a national database of gun ownership and initiate ‘definitive’ (i.e., severely restrictive) policies, such as banning assault rifles, creating a national gun database – exactly the kinds of policies which everyone knows will reduce gun violence but are policies usually considered too unyielding to be bought by the gun-owning crowd.
Where Dunston’s group departs from the accepted, gun-control narrative can be found in their response to the very first question under the FAQ tab: “Should law-abiding people own guns for self-protection?” Answer: “In general, no.” They don’t say that people should be walking around with guns after they have been ‘trained.’ They don’t say that everyone has a ‘right’ to keep a gun for self-protection because of what my late friend Tony Scalia said in 2008. They say – no. Which makes this group the only gun-control group that is willing to take an entirely uncompromising position with Gun-nut Nation over the issue of using a gun for personal defense.
I started writing about gun violence when I got sick and tired of the gun industry trying to maintain full employment in their factories by promoting the nonsense about how everyone would be more safe and secure if they walked around with a gun. And to make sure that the gun industry wouldn’t be accused of promoting unsafe behavior, they got the NRA to ramp up their training program which now focuses on what the boys in Fairfax call ‘Basic Shooting Pistol,’ a course that prepares someone to use a pistol in self-defense with the same degree of proficiency they would get if they took a lesson from Leonard Mermelstein, who happens to be my cat.
If the NRA would promote what I consider to be the proper use of guns; i.e., hunting and sport shooting, they’d get no argument from me. But pretending that the only difference between a video shooting game and a live gun is that you have to pass a background check to spend money on the latter, is to foist a marketing scheme on current and would-be gun owners that is completely and totally wrong. Not just wrong, but unsafe to the extreme.
Unfortunately, most of the gun-control organizations, along with their friends in medicine and public health, find one way or another to somehow avoid taking this direct and no-nonsense approach. Which is why I find the intentions and efforts of Americans Against Gun Violence to be commendable in every respect and I urge you to do what I have just done.
Which is to join up, send them a donation and help keep them in the game.