Get real on guns
In other countries, people suffer from mental health issues. Those countries do not have mass murders every week.
Other countries have angry youth bent on social revenge. They don’t have gun outlets where it is permissible to sell assault rifles to troubled 18-year-olds.
Other countries have a gun culture. Those countries have managed to ban 30-round clips and semi-automatic military-style weapons.
Why are we the only country in the world where slaughtering school children and murdering shoppers has become commonplace? Why is the U.S. so broken when it comes to regulating guns?
A study tracking public assaults from 1994-2019 in which four or more people died found that the U.S. had nearly three times the number of mass shootings as the next 17 countries combined. If the record is expanded from before 1994 to 2022, the disparity is even more shocking. And yet our political leaders seem paralyzed to enact commonsense regulation.
“... since 1975, more Americans have died from guns – including suicides, murders and accidents – than in all the wars in United States history, going back to the American Revolution,” writes New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristoff. That is an appalling statistic. Is that the freedom the Second Amendment guarantees?
“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Remember that old saw? People who kill people use guns. That’s the bitter reality. Limit the availability of guns, and gun violence decreases. Here’s a thought experiment from Times journalist German Lopez, paraphrased:
• If more toasters are available, more people would use toasters.
• If more cars are available, more people would use cars.
Now put guns in that sentence. It’s obvious to the point of banality.
If more guns are available, more people would use guns. But in the U.S., stating the obvious has become a political landmine. Limit gun availability, and shootings of all types decrease. That is irrefutable. Nobody is calling for a gun-free nation. Yet, gun advocates put more value on the broadest possible interpretation of a minor freedom granted by the Second Amendment than they do blood-soaked classrooms and body-strewn churches and grocery stores. Such priorities question everything a society based on morality and the rule of law values. Because some nut job was able to buy an assault weapon and 200 rounds of ammo, another dozen families are plunged into grief. Why do we allow such senseless, preventable tragedy to continue stalking our land?
We’ve tried sending “thoughts and prayers” to victims of gun violence. It hasn’t worked. Let’s try another approach. We cannot stop gun violence, but we can dramatically decrease it through common-sense regulation, including:
1. Stringent mandatory background checks and a week-long waiting period. Impulse shootings would disappear.
2. Red flag laws – A court-ordered temporary confiscation of guns and ammunition from those threatening themselves or others. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted such laws. Why hasn’t every state?
3. Age restrictions – people must be at least 21 years old to buy any weapon and at least 25 if the buyer has a drug, alcohol or violence conviction. A disproportionate number of mass killings are committed by young men.
4. No sales to anyone with a history of threats or violence.
5. Ban on assault style weapons and multiple round clips. These weapons are designed for use in a military conflict. They have no place in our society.
How do any of these proposals place an unfair burden on law-abiding gun owners?
Politicians claim enacting gun legislation would be “political suicide.” The political suicide of every politician is preferable to the homicide of one more 10-year-old who went to school thinking she was safe.
– john van becay, Aurora