Suppose I gave you, say, $100 for every man, woman or child that you agree to kill? Not interested? OK, how about if nobody would ever know? Maybe you have a magic wishing well in your backyard and every time you whisper down the well, “Kill them,” someone you don’t know, somewhere in the US, who otherwise would have lived, would die.
Maybe the person to die would be a good person, a bad person or just an average person. They might be a mom with three kids, a dad, a school kid, a criminal or an artist. Maybe a 68-year-old grandmother or a 6-month-old baby. You wouldn’t know who, but every time you whispered down your well, someone would die and another $100 would magically appear in your bank account.
I don’t know about you, but I still couldn’t bring myself to whisper down that well. So, let’s see if I can make it a little easier on you. What if you could kill passively, by not doing something? Here’s how it could work. You’re given a magic “Don’t Kill” button. If you press it, 3,000 people’s lives are saved. But if you don’t press it, 3,000 people die. You get paid $100 for each person who dies because you didn’t press the button. Does this sound like an unrealistic scenario? Believe it or not, choices like this are being made by elected politicians right now.
There are a lot of ways people can get killed, and one of them is by guns. In 2017, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 39,773 people died in the United States from gun-related injuries.
Was there a way to prevent these deaths? There’s no magic button, but according to the Rand Corporation, passing a ban on assault weapons could prevent about 170 mass shooting deaths a year; passing a universal background check law could prevent 1,100 gun homicides each year; and raising the age limit for buying firearms could prevent another 1,600 gun homicides and suicides. So about 3,000 deaths could be prevented each year simply by passing a few obvious measures that the majority of Americans already support.
If the majority of Americans want these gun control measures, and the US is a democracy, why aren’t our elected representatives following through on what we want them to do? Why aren’t they preventing about 3,000 deaths a year? It’s simple: they accepted the deal. They don’t prevent the deaths and they get paid.
Since the vast majority of voters don’t donate money to Senators and Representatives, these politicians raise campaign funds from somewhere else. And one of those places is the National Rifle Association, otherwise known as the NRA. Naturally the NRA expects something in return. It expects that politicians it funds to NOT VOTE FOR ANY GUN CONTROL LAWS OF ANY KIND. Pretty simple concept, really. Give money to a politician = politician doesn’t vote for gun control = another 3,000 lives lost each year. I’m sure many of these politicians will claim that the gun control issue is not so black and white. But somehow the politicians who receive campaign contributions from the NRA are the very ones who vote against gun control laws.
Would you like to know if your Senator or Representative accepts money from the NRA? Just click this link and go to the US map and click on your state. In addition to saying whether the person accepts money from the NRA, after each name there’s either a R or a D for Republican or Democrat. Or go to this article and scroll down to take a look at the Senators and Representatives who accepted the most money from the NRA during their careers. You’ll see that by far the biggest recipients of the largess of the NRA are Republicans. In fact, the top 78 recipients of NRA funds are all Republicans. Coming in, in 79th place, is a Democrat.
Would you like to save 3,000 lives each year? During the next election you will have an opportunity to decide which candidates to vote for. I encourage you to vote your conscience. Of course, you can choose not to vote at all. Doing nothing is super easy—you won’t even need to whisper down a well.