How The NRA Can Avoid Extinction

&l;p&g;&l;img class=&q;dam-image bloomberg size-large wp-image-39038848&q; src=&q;×0.jpg?fit=scale&q; data-height=&q;640&q; data-width=&q;960&q;&g; An attendee walks past a National Rifle Association (NRA) logo on the exhibit floor during the annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Friday, May 20, 2016. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

As a physician and financial planner,&a;nbsp;years ago I wrote about the physical and financial cost of gun violence in our country. My articles tackled the way the &l;a href=&q;;&g;NRA inserted their directives into the Affordable Care Act&l;/a&g;, manipulation of state lawmakers to pass legislation that eroded the ability of the medical profession to discuss gun safety, dealing with guns in regards to mental health issues, and &l;a href=&q;;&g;I even offered suggestions to the NRA on steps they could take to mitigate unnecessary gun deaths&l;/a&g;. Of course nothing changed.

When I wrote those articles, the gun rights advocates came after me hard with taunting emails and veiled threats. These people drain energy and offer no constructive way forward to reduce gun violence. Their insistence that they need firepower to match the government so they can overthrow tyranny, calling people ignorant who don&a;rsquo;t support their views, and diverting&a;nbsp;discussion to all the other stupid ways people die was painful and demoralizing. I put my head back in the sand and focused on other topics that could potentially make a difference.

The rise of &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Moms Demand Action&l;/a&g;, &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;Everytown For Gun Safety&l;/a&g;, and now the Parkland shooting students gives me great hope the tide is turning. Shannon Watts of Moms Demand is a force and must have the constitution of a &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;devil worm&l;/a&g; to withstand the barrage of hate that is thrown at her. (Click the link to the &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;devil worm&l;/a&g; and you&a;rsquo;ll see it is a great compliment.) The Parkland students are showing us the resiliency and brilliance of the millennial generation and will no doubt crush the unreasonable parts of the gun rights movement.

So what is the NRA to do?&l;span class=&q;tweet_icon&q;&g;&l;/span&g;

There was a &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;fantastic podcast on Radiolab which reviewed the history of the NRA&l;/a&g; and how it became what it is today. The NRA started out as a noble organization dedicated to gun safety education. Eventually, it was hijacked by a faction who wanted to expand the lobbying arm and focus on gun owner rights. The rest is history. Now the &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;United States has the highest rate of gun ownership per capita&l;/a&g; of any country. &l;a href=&q;; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;We rank 11&l;sup&g;th&l;/sup&g; on firearm related deaths&l;/a&g; behind Panama, Brazil, Columbia, El Salvador, Jamaica, Guatemala, Swaziland, Venezuela, and Honduras. Is this something to be proud of?

&l;p class=&q;tweet_line&q;&g;Now that momentum is gathering toward gun control, what can the NRA do to stem the tide of bad publicity?&l;/p&g;

First, it must retire their old formula of public relations &a;ndash; staying quiet after a mass shooting, announcing they will propose solutions, share yet again their solution of promoting more gun ownership, and fund politicians to further their legislative agenda.

Second, the NRA should put forth meaty initiatives to reduce gun violence such as encouraging gun violence research by independent organizations, working WITH medical societies and physicians to further gun safety education, and funding programs on non-violent conflict resolution that can be taught in every school.

Third, the NRA has&a;nbsp;introduced legislation multiple times to&a;nbsp;outlaw the questioning of patients about gun ownership by medical professionals.&a;nbsp;&a;nbsp;They would like it to be illegal to question even those with anger issues and mental health issues at risk of harming themselves or society. Encouraging these discussions and lines of questioning will show the NRA is serious about reducing gun violence.

Finally, instead of attacking those trying to make change, the NRA would be wise to engage with them in a constructive way. Their current attacks on gun control activists and fear filled messages on NRATV are counterproductive to meaningful conversation.

If the NRA doesn&a;rsquo;t heed the warnings of the current environment, they can be assured they will face the tough gun legislation they fear down the road. Let&a;rsquo;s only hope this isn&a;rsquo;t their definition of tyranny and they put out a call for their heavily armed militia to intervene on the NRA&s;s behalf.


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