The firearms industry may be the biggest force for evil in America.

The evil lies not just in the fact that these manufacturers made the weapons that were used to slaughter 19 school children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, last week, 10 shoppers at a Buffalo, NY, grocery store the week before and more than 1,500 other Americans in 270 mass shootings since 2009. No, the firearms merchants have done far more than simply build guns and offer them for sale.

According to evidence revealed by industry whistleblowers and in newly released court documents, the gun makers have, for two decades, helped push the right wing paranoia and conspiratorial fantasies that have fed the fever for assault rifles while using social media, video games and direct marketing to target teenagers as eventual customers. It is no coincidence that the typical mass shooter is a young man brandishing a freshly-purchased weapon of war. Advertising works.

As a result, gun sales have soared since the start of the century and the U.S. now has twice as many guns as it has people. With millions of dollars drawn from this blood money, the gun industry transformed the National Rifle Association, once a respectable, hunting-centered group, into its militant mouthpiece. And, with more millions donated to political campaigns, the industry turned the Republican Party into a legion of pathetic puppets who dutifully block all attempts to pass the sensible gun control legislation that a large majority of Americans support.

The absolutist defense of the Second Amendment presented by the NRA, the GOP and the gun industry is not actually about the right to bear arms. That is a cover story to hide the true motivation behind the gun epidemic that is killing Americans day after day after day: financial profit and political power.

And, with the mourning far from over in Uvalde and Buffalo, that seems especially evil.

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