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Thursday, 05 October 2017 20:07

Gun Crazy America

Written by  Bob Serody

A generation has passed during which Republicans, and even conservative Democrats, have stopped all types of gun legislation to prevent mass shootings. Meanwhile, the carnage from these horrible events has increased as the weapons have become more deadly. In revisiting these mass shootings, we recall how these same congressmen blocked efforts to limit the size of magazines after the massacre at Virginia Tech.  Even more recently, they thwarted bipartisan legislation aimed at expanding background checks of gun purchasers after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

But it didn’t end there. After the Orlando nightclub massacre, even an innocuous attempt to stop gun sales to buyers on terrorism watch lists was blocked by congress. The message was clear. Anything that limits the sale of guns will never again get through the halls of congress.

But after the latest massacre in Las Vegas, lawmakers in both parties may have found that obscure conversion kits called bump stocks used to change semiautomatic weapons into fully automatic weapons with long deadly bursts had finally attracted too much attention. A lone shooter had murdered 58 persons at an outdoor music festival and wounded 515 more, making it the worst mass shooting yet in American history.  Now some members of congress are actually floating the idea of taking action to ban bump stocks.

Why did it take bump stocks to make us feel that the use of this device somehow crosses the line when members of congress are at the same time proposing that silencers should be used to deaden the sound of weapons? After all, if someone shoots me, why should others be disturbed by the noise of gunshots? If the frequent lack of action by our lawmakers regarding effective gun control doesn’t make us sick, nothing probably will.

Many Americans are fixated on the motives of mass killers. Maybe it gives comfort to some of us if we can verify that the person was crazy rather than sane. The argument follows that there are only a few crazy people among us, so the odds of us becoming an unwilling victim will be too remote to worry about it. Then why is there any need to restrict the use of guns? There is the second amendment argument that we need to protect ourselves from home invaders, the police, and even the National Guard. There is also the NRA argument that a good guy with a gun will solve all our problems by shooting a bad guy with a gun. So let’s arm everyone. If someone goes on a killing spree in a crowded theater, if we are all armed, the gunman won’t stand a chance. The problem with this argument is that when everyone joins in, no one will be left after the bullet-spraying melee is over. I believe that the motive behind a sick shooter is meaningless when the aftermath leaves many children dead in an elementary school, or the recent massacre in Las Vegas sets another record of death and injury. What should be relevant and apparent is how to prevent another mass killing. Our congressmen counter this suggestion by saying we can’t prevent isolated incidents. (Actually, they are looking for an excuse not raise the ire of the NRA.)

When we think of the number of guns owned by citizens in our country and relate them to the number of deaths from mass killings per capita among the wealthiest countries, we really stand out.  According to a New York Times study, If we compare these countries on the basis of gun homicides per day and assume that each wealthy country has the same population as the United States, then the chance of being the victim of a homicide in the United States is approximately 5.4 times greater than any other wealthy country. This result makes me question if we are really that civilized

So when a few nervous congressmen say that everything will soon be back to normal if we ban bump stocks, I don’t believe that this ban will have much of an effect. I believe the real problem stems from the anger and frustration we encounter in our daily lives. Because of the resulting pain, the direction in which we seem to be moving is toward a society going mad. In looking for a permanent cure, we should first understand that our founding fathers never intended us to play with weapons of mass destruction. There are too many unbalanced people living among us driven by fear and hate, and our gun laws are making it too easy for dangerous weapons to fall into their hands. While effective gun laws are the first step, we need a long-term solution with the aim of reducing our tendency toward aggression.

Let’s start by recognizing that all of us must be entitled to a good education if we are to have a more enjoyable and prosperous life. We will then be able to make more responsible decisions and even qualify for meaningful jobs. This cannot be accomplished when almost all the country’s wealth is controlled by just a few. With progressive taxation, the government will be able to provide for our physical and mental health. Finally, we must learn to embrace the differences among us. Then maybe the anger we harbor against each other will diminish, and we will finally come to realize that guns aren’t required to make us safe. Effective gun control will become a reality and mass killings will become a thing of the past.

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Bob Serody is a member of Space Coast Progressive Alliance.

*ED. NOTE: The views expressed here are solely those of the author. SCPA does not endorse candidates and welcomes commentary on a wide range of issues, including political campaigns, local, regional and national. If interested in contributing commentary, please contact SCPA.

Last modified on Thursday, 05 October 2017 20:21
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