Our Missourian carried two articles about guns on the same day last week.

One, from the Associated Press, reported that a man carried a pistol into a special education classroom in San Bernardino, California, and shot to death his estranged wife, an 8-year-old student who happened to be standing beside her and then himself.

The other, from a Missourian reporter in Jefferson City, reported that a House of Representatives committee was discussing a Republican-sponsored bill to allow guns to be carried by nearly anyone into child care centers, public universities and churches.

A Democratic member of the committee had the temerity to ask its sponsor, “Is this for show, or is it for real?”

It’s for real, he was assured.

My follow-up question, then, is this: Which organization is more dangerous to Americans — ISIS or the NRA?

As you know, ISIS is the acronym for The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It is a terrorist organization founded in 1999, headquartered in Syria and feared around the world. 

The NRA is the acronym for the National Rifle Association, founded in 1871*, headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, and feared by politicians across America.

What makes ISIS so feared is its willingness to kill in pursuit of its goal of creating a fundamentalist caliphate.

What makes the NRA so feared is its willingness to spend heavily and campaign aggressively in pursuit of its goal of removing all restrictions on the possession and use of firearms just about anywhere by just about anyone.

In our country, the NRA is a lot closer to meeting its goal. See, for instance, the report mentioned above and the recent history of Missouri’s legislators.

So which is the greater threat to the safety of Americans? Let’s look at the facts rather than the ideology.

The gunviolencearchive.org website tells us that more than 15,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2016. Another 30,626 were injured. Of those killed or injured, 672 were children under the age of 12 and 3,117 were teenagers ages 13 to 17.

Euronews calculated some annual averages on U.S. soil since 9/11:

  • Number of Americans killed each year by Islamic jihadist terrorists: 9
  • Number of Americans killed each year by another American: 11,737

That well-known rightwing publication Business Insider drew on such sources as the National Safety Council and the National Center for Health Statistics to come up with some probabilities

The odds of your being killed by a foreign-born terrorist are 1 in 45,808. The odds of your being killed by a gunshot are 1 in 358.

Now, you might object that it isn’t fair to hold the NRA responsible for every misuse of a firearm. You might argue that the pro-gun passion of our politicians, especially but not only the Republicans, can’t be attributed altogether to the clout of the NRA.

You would be correct. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

However, there is no denying that the NRA is Missouri’s and the nation’s most vociferous, most generous to its friends and most vindictive to its enemies advocate of a free-fire zone for guns of all types in all places.

And that’s a danger to us all.

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