A footnote following the Las Vegas shooting of Sunday night notes the, once again, dramatic increase in gun purchases following the most recent and for now worst mass shooting in our sad and ongoing past that is our apparent future. In a perverse and sick consequence, gun manufacturer stocks rise notably following significant mass shootings, while lobbyists and gun advocates repeat again that now is not the time to discuss gun control measures.
There have been over 1500 mass shootings in our country since the end of 2012. We have had 273 year-to-date, and October 1 is only the 275th day of 2017. If these tragedies occur daily, when is the right time to discuss sensible gun measures?
I purchased a .22 caliber rifle years ago to deal with water moccasins that lived near my home. After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, I got rid of it because I felt powerless to do anything more to stem the senseless violence we endure. After the Gabby Giffords shooting, I joined the gun control group she founded, Everytown for Gun Safety. Sadly, the gun lobby has grown too radicalized in its ideology and too powerful through its political donations for reasoned debate and sensible measures to be considered in this country.
In 1996, Australia suffered its worst mass shooting, resulting in gun measures removing over one million guns from the populace. We are, in fact, the only developed nation that has little to no gun control and have, by far, the worst levels of gun violence.
We suffer from vastly more gun violence here than any other developed country in the world, as this chart depicts. Interestingly, in all but one of the countries named most of the deaths are self-inflicted. We have more homicides alone than virtually all the countries shown.
Nicholas Kristof, a conservative writer, wrote today about the need for sensible gun control measures. We need a license to drive or even to marry. We may own our homes, but they are rightfully subject to safety laws.
The NRA quotes from the Second Amendment as scripture in promoting its radical agenda of an unrestricted right to guns. They gloss over, however, the language within the amendment that justifies, and should limit, the rights they espouse. It begins, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State….”
One could debate the relevance today of the amendment itself, since militia have passed into obscurity, now that we – unlike then – have a standing army. What part of “well regulated”, however, prohibits reasonable gun safety laws? Perhaps it is too inflammatory to say that legislators that take donations from the gun lobby have blood on their hands. Surely though, there is a reasonable middle ground.
I accept that there is a place for guns in our society. Assault weapons and Saturday night specials, however, simply don’t belong. If you live in many rural areas or if you hunt, having a rifle or shotgun makes plenty of sense. In a city, I’d say you are better off with a can of bear spray, which requires little to no effort to aim and is apt to disable more quickly than a bullet in most cases. One shocking statistic reports that half of all firearms here are owned by just three percent of Americans.
I understand the attraction many have for a well made weapon and the sense of security that it can foster, however false that may be. If we could only talk rationally though, thousands of innocent lives could be saved. Let’s hope that all has not yet been said in this arena.