A Billion Bucks for Bullets and Blood
A billion bucks in gunmaker profits over the last decade were made from the sale of AR-15 style assault rifles in America. That’s what a U.S. House of Representatives investigation uncovered. “In total, five gun manufacturers collected more than $1bn from the sale of assault rifles over the last decade, the investigation found,” reports the Guardian. NPR puts the figure at $3 billion.
Bucks for bullets and blood is the concern of Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. Maloney chairs the investigation committee. She wants to make transparent how profiteering on mass murder perpetuates the never-ending stream of deaths. “These rifles are the weapon of choice for mass murderers who have terrorized and slaughtered young children at school, worshippers at churches and synagogues, and families celebrating the Fourth of July,” she is quoted by NBC News.
H.R. 1808 the Assault Weapons Ban of 2022 is one attempt by conscientious legislators. But, how can integrity and compassion fight bucks and bullets?
Gun Deaths in Ukraine and the U.S.
In “Gun Deaths in Ukraine and the U.S.,” we observe the kill rate ratio. We compare Russia’s army at war in Ukraine with American murderers in peacetime. Who kills more faster? American gun buyers do. From January to May 2022, Russian soldiers in battle killed 4031 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. During the same period, in the good ol’ USA, shooters killed 17,300 civilians. That’s a ratio of 4 to 1. We must ask: who profits from this combination of bucks, bullets and blood?
America’s Two Killing Fields
In “America’s Two Killing Fields,” we depict America’s schools, churches, and other public places as killing fields for young men with military assault weapons. No background check could filter them out, because they are not “bad guys” until after they pull the trigger. So, gun manufacturers and their stockholders are “making a killing” in profits. They’re making billions of bucks off bullets and blood.
The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. constitution does not protect either the trigger pullers or their profiteering accessories before and after the fact. As I said in my previous posts, let’s remind ourselves of just what the 2nd Amendment actually says? Here it is.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Note two things. The 2nd Amendment protects the rights of a “well regulated Militia” to “bear arms.” Not customers for Sturm Ruger & Co Inc (RGR.N), Smith and Weston, or Daniel Defense. The 2nd Amendment was not intended to protect those of us who make billions of bucks off bullets and blood.
The market is big. And growing, according to Garen Wintemute at the University of California at Davis. “Firearm deaths in the United States grew by nearly 43% between 2010 and 2020, and gun sales surged during the coronavirus pandemic,” reports Rodrigo Perez Ortega in Science 377:6604 (22 July 2022) 357. My concern in this post is primarily though not exclusively with military style assault weapons.
Gun Safety Legislation and Prevarication
In “Gun Safety Legislation and Prevarication,” we watched President Joe Biden sign a bill passed on June 24, 2022. Legislation, yes. Prevarication, yes too. This bill keeps the flow open for manufacturing, selling, and reselling military style weapons for civilian mass murder. This legal prevarication kicks up dust so that we don’t notice the barrels of AR-15s aimed in our direction.
Madison County Sheriff Buddy Harwood in North Carolina is responding to the crisis by placing semiautomatic rifles in each of the county’s six schools. These AR-15s will protect the children and teachers from future school shooters, says the sheriff. Can one imagine a gun fight in the classroom or playground? No matter what happens, the sales of semiautomatic weapons continues and continues and continues without end.
The joke is that under NRA tutelage we look one way while the magicians’ sleight of hand operates another way. We get fooled into thinking the issue is background checks. By diverting our attention to background checks, we miss the point. Allegedly, with background checks we avoid selling assault weapons to bad guys, to murderers. This overlooks the fact that the shooter does not become a bad guy or murderer until after he pulls the trigger. Enticing young people to buy assault weapons and expecting no one to die is like throwing a lit cigarette into a gas tank and expecting it to be snuffed out.
A More Compassionate America
If we were to vote for a more compassionate America, what should we do?
The first problem to be tackled is to remove the motivation for selling, and selling, and more selling of the killing machines. It makes sense for the military to possess and master the use of the latest in weapons technology, to be sure. But, not civilians. Therefore, states and even Uncle Sam should prohibit all transfer of existing semi-automatic assault weapons through selling or buying, as well as prohibit the manufacture and sale of any new ones. The same with ammunition. Effective immediately.
Today’s gun profiteers should move their money to other investments. Gun mongering members of congress should retire while the electorate elevates into leadership those who dedicate our nation to compassion.
To repeat: it is my view that states and even Uncle Sam should prohibit all transfer of existing semi-automatic assault weapons through selling or buying, as well as prohibit the manufacture and sale of any new ones. The same with ammunition. Effective immediately.
Ted Peters is a Lutheran pastor and emeritus seminary professor. He is author of Short Prayers and The Cosmic Self. His one volume systematic theology is now in its 3rd edition, God—The World’s Future (Fortress 2015). His book, God in Cosmic History, traces the rise of the Axial religions 2500 years ago. He has undertaken a thorough examination of the sin-and-grace dialectic in two works, Sin: Radical Evil in Soul and Society (Eerdmans 1994) and Sin Boldly! (Fortress 2015). Watch for his forthcoming, The Voice of Christian Public Theology (ATF 2022). See his website: TedsTimelyTake.com.
Ted Peters’ fictional series of espionage thrillers features Leona Foxx, a hybrid woman who is both a spy and a parish pastor.