‘Just Say No’ to NRA, its politicians

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category icon Columns, Opinion

By Tom Hastings, Guest Columnist

America loves its guns.

Really? Only a quarter of us own guns; that is, three-quarters of us do not, although 42 percent of us live in homes in which someone owns a firearm.

America loves its children.

Seriously? Is that why 7,000 of them are shot each year? Hey, only 1,300 of them die, though it does add up — 26,000 since 1999. It really is risible to hear about guns for family protection. “Family annihilation” is closer for any family losing a child to gunfire.

Our Second Amendment protects us all.

Uh huh. While 30,000 Americans die by the gun in the United States every year, it turns out that the first time the U.S. Supreme Court ever interpreted the Second Amendment as guaranteeing the right of individual Americans to own guns was in 2008. What?! We’ve somehow luckily existed as a country without that guarantee? Why did it take so long? Apparently, it took that long for the perfect storm of the influence of the National Rifle Association on politicians to take effect, for the court to be packed with those justices who were pro-gun rights and were willing to twist the original intent — to allow Americans to maintain state militias to stage insurgency when necessary. Our craven Congress has used every dirty trick and underhanded connivance to get the job done, even stooping to refuse to do their job and vote on a nominated Supreme Court justice until they could get a gun-loving president.

You can’t fight the NRA. They spend tens of millions of dollars on political campaigns to get their loyalists elected.

Tell that to the Parkland kids, the survivors of the ghastly NRA-justified massacre of 17 youth and school staff on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They have aroused the nation. Kids who cannot yet vote have awakened us. We are still counting how many of us turned out on March 24 to the 800 demonstrations they called. They are going to succeed where we have failed them again and again. Like apartheid falling in South Africa, the NRA will topple, and even the corporations who have undergirded them so long will abandon them, as we already see happening.

The little children of Sandy Hook, the high-schoolers from Columbine and Thurston, the college kids and professors who died at Virginia Tech and so many more — their memory fuels us and the Florida kids have lit us up. I’m a teacher — educating more than 300 college students every year. I’m following the Parkland kids and, like them, I’m in it with so many others until we fix this. To the NRA and their purchased politicians: we “Just Say No.”

Dr. Tom H. Hastings, Ed.D., is an assistant professor and co-coordinator of conflict resolution programs at Portland State University’s Conflict Resolution Department; the director of PeaceVoice, a program of the Oregon Peace Institute; and author of the book, A New Era of Nonviolence. For more information about Dr. Hastings, visit or