GUNS AND CIGARETTES
In “How Guns Won” Time’s cover story (August 6, 2012) Joe Klein, states that Americans have turned against gun control. More accurately, it is “Uninformed Americans”—deprived of the real facts by the NRA’s relentless cover up—that appear to have turned. It is important to recall the battle for public opinion during the cigarette wars; when given the real facts, Americans turned against the tobacco industry. This will happen to the gun industry.
Until the U.S. Surgeon General Report on Smoking and Health in 1964, Americans did not know what the tobacco industry had known and covered up for years—smoking tobacco caused lung cancer. Once the the public was truthfully informed, attitudes quickly changed. A Gallup Survey in 1958 found that only 44 percent of Americans believed smoking caused cancer, by 1968, 78 percent believed.
The situation with guns mirrors that of cigarettes. The gun industry and NRA have known for years the devastation to public safety caused by guns in the absence of sane gun control laws; they have worked to cover it up. In 1996, NRA pressure caused the elimination of funding for independent firearms research from the Center for Disease Control’s Budget (CDC). Today, the CDC only conducts firearm research first approved by the NRA. In 2003, the NRA caused Congress to pass the Tiahrt Amendment, which assures that sales to the criminal market continue unhindered.
To maximize gun industry sales, the NRA’s goal is that guns are carried at all times, in all places, by virtually anyone. Once the the public is truthfully informed attitudes will quickly change; public support for stricter gun control laws will soar.