Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Slow-Moving Civil War

Another massacre, this time about 20 miles away from me, 12 killed and scores wounded. Another psychopathic killer, who-shall-not-be-named. Another emotional outpouring, of anger, of grief, of confusion. Another spontaneous memorial for people to express their sadness and their outrage. Another showdown between the NRA and gun-control advocates.

Incredibly, experts and politicians say nothing will change. The American public seems resigned that some time in the near future, another disturbed person will open fire and kill and wound more people in a school, or a church, a shopping mall, or wherever people gather. Even worse, gun sales have increased during the last week to "defend" against such attacks. I'd prefer not to live in a world where every other person is packing heat.

I can't believe a civilized society like ours could allow PhD student who lives in suburban Denver access to huge amounts of weaponry and firepower. I've never heard a good explanation for why citizen gun owners should have access to assault weapons. The answer is always about the abstract--the Second Amendment, citizens have an unlimited right to bear arms. Really? Because that seems to me to be stretching things a lot. The real reason is that gun manufacturers and gun dealers are making a lot of money.

Ten states have instituted regulations on the purchase of decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine, one of the ingredients used to make methamphetamine. Meth is undeniably hollowing out families and communities. I'm not talking about buying a couple of packages of Sudafed to get you and your family through a cold. But a suspicious eye ought to be cast on customers who are buying a store's entire stock of decongestant. I don't have a problem with store managers alerting police to a potential threat like this.

If laws can stop meth cooks from buying a huge supply of meth, I don't see why we can't we similarly limit the amount of artillery gun owners can buy. Notice I said a limit, not a ban. However, I am comfortable with banning the sale of assault weapons to anyone. No citizen can buy a nuclear bomb online. I'm not thrilled with the military having weapons of mass destruction, but let's leave assault weapons in their hands.

Whether we're resigned to more mass shootings, or we're going out and buying guns with the fantasy we can defend ourselves against heavily armored, heavily armed psychopaths, we're basically accepting the fact that we're in a slow-moving civil war. We're resigned to pitting our citizens against one another. We don't need supposed Muslim terrorists. Without reasonable gun control laws, we're making it way too easy for disturbed people to pick us off, one school, one movie theater at a time.

It's time to admit that allowing commerce to drive the ways weapons are bought and sold isn't keeping our citizens and communities safe. As a country of laws, it's long past time to legislate extensive background checks that track the kind and numbers of weapons and ammo gun owners are buying.

No comments:

Post a Comment