Sorry for the incoherence, but I just don’t know what can be done about gun violence in America. If some new disease was killing tens of thousands of people each year we’d be doing something about it, just as we do with existing diseases. Traffic accidents kill a horrific number of people but we’ve been working on making cars safer and the numbers of deaths and injuries are starting to go down. We work ceaselessly to make life safer, to protect one another from harm. But when it comes to gun violence we do squat. Maybe because we’ve allowed things to come to such a pass it’s now virtually impossible to do anything.
Even if gun control laws were passed tomorrow, how would they be enforced? And even if they were enforced, what about all the millions of guns that are already out there? Would I voluntarily turn in my own guns? No, of course not, and neither would you. But we are responsible citizens, not the ones who shouldn’t be allowed to have guns. Or so we’d all say.
In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, where so many small children were killed, we might be coming to a point where it’s socially and politically possible to adopt restrictions on assault and military-style weapons, and that will help a little … but not, I fear, a lot. After hearing all day yesterday that the Newtown shooter used a military-style assault rifle, today I hear that in fact he was armed with regular, plain-jane handguns.
Suppose politicians do grow a spine and move to impose sensible gun restrictions: does anyone think the NRA and its gun nut minions will stand passively by and let it happen? The NRA is, as of this moment, still silent, but the tools who parrot the NRA line are all over Twitter and Facebook, making the same old excuses for doing nothing to address the problem, even refusing to acknowledge there is a problem.
If we’re not going to adopt reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, can we at least put restrictions on the crazies? Well, we probably can’t pass a law banning gun sales to crazy and autistic people because that would hurt gun sales. The NRA isn’t just a gun-owners’ lobby, it’s first & foremost a gun industry lobby. No, that’ll never fly. But you could ban crazy and autistic people … literally round ‘em up and throw ‘em in prison for life. After all, who would step forward to protect them? A few mental health professionals and members of their immediate families? Who’s afraid of them?
Either way, whether it’s controlling guns or controlling people who shouldn’t have guns, it’d be a massive government intrusion into the lives of Americans and a fatal shift in the balance of power between the state and the people. But in my judgment, rounding up the crazies has a better chance of happening than rounding up the guns. Guns have a constituency. Crazies don’t. And besides, who wants to stand in the way of a good witch hunt?
Just imagine the price we’d pay for that, though. Who decides who’s crazy? Who determines which autistic kid might grow up to be a soulless killer and which one might grow up to be a Bill Gates? Imagine something like the TSA only infinitely worse, massive and pervasive at all levels of society, with poorly-educated agents poking their noses into our everyday lives to decide which of us are good citizens and which of us are defective. It’s the stuff of dystopian fiction. Or North Korea.
We really have an intractable problem here, folks, and the Supreme Court didn’t help matters by changing the meaning of the 2nd Amendment. We’re not helping by carrying water for the gun industry and the NRA, parroting the same old excuses and setting the stage for future mass shootings. We willingly give up personal freedoms in order to obtain drivers’ licenses and drive on public roads. Why are we so unwilling to accept any restrictions on gun ownership?
Sigh. The Newtown shooter stole the guns he used, they say, by way of making yet another excuse for doing nothing. I have guns at home. When I’m not actually carrying them, I keep them in a locked gun safe. It’s the least I can do. But you know what? I’m willing to do more. Let’s talk about it.
Mr. President, I’m nobody. I write a blog maybe 200 people read, tops. You need to take the lead and get this conversation started. I’m listening.
© 2012, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.