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Crazy people and guns

Another crazy person with a gun, another mass shooting — this time at a FedEx facility in Georgia.

First, in my opinion, anyone who shoots anybody is by definition crazy, with the exception of someone whose life is in danger, has a gun and fires in self-defense or is a soldier in combat.

Second, in my opinion, the National Rifle Association is digging its own grave. Public support for background checks is overwhelming. (In Arizona, it’s 70 percent.) While Newtown didn’t give politicians the backbone to start ratcheting back the availability of guns and high capacity clips or the right to carry guns in more and more places, at some point something as awful or worse than Newtown will happen, and the NRA will find itself without a place at the table, and unable to control the debate anymore.

Third, in my opinion, the NRA’s argument that the only way to deal with a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun ignores a critical fact. Under ideal circumstances, police officers hit their intended targets about half the time. Under less than ideal circumstances, like low light or multiple officers firing at once, the accuracy rate can drop into single digits. How many good guys with guns are as well-trained and prepared as a police officer? Imagine the carnage in the theater in Aurora, Colo., if just 10 good guys had been there with their guns and all had opened fire.

Fourth, in my opinion, the Second Amendment is being misused. When the Founding Fathers wrote our Constitution, the most common weapon was a musket. Here’s a video of someone who looks pretty adept to me managing to get off three musket shots in 46 seconds. I believe that the Founders would be horrified at the gun violence today in their country. I think they would be shocked at the fire power available to almost anyone and at the fact that something they wrote is being used as a barrier to doing something about it.

Fifth, this is not an opinion, this is a fact: We don’t have reliable information to bring to the debate about guns and gun violence, thanks to the NRA. In 1996, the group pressured Congress to specifically ban federal research into gun violence, because of a 1993 Centers for Disease Control study that showed a correlation between guns in homes and an increase in murders.

Here’s the best information we have at the moment: A private group called Gun Violence Archive reports that, as of April 28 of this year, there have been 13,409 incidents of gun violence in America. Of that, 5,823 resulted in injury and 3,479 resulted in death, and 371 of those deaths and injuries were to children. Nine police officers have been shot and killed. A total of 257 incidents (1.9 percent) involved the defensive use of a gun.

I applaud the group’s effort to compile the numbers and the efforts of Joe Nocera at the New York Times to put together a daily blog of media reports of gun violence from around the country, but we need much more if we’re going to have any chance of reaching a consensus broad enough to start solving the problem.

Knowledge is power, and the NRA prefers ignorance.