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Ramping Up Discussion Of Gun Control After Bloodshed In Virginia

August 27, 2015

The morning after the  gun blazed in Virginia that required another series of headlines to race across the world about how this nation is in need of some sanity when it comes to gun control I can report at least there is a new discussion under way about fixing the problem.  I am not under any illusion that anything of substance will occur.  If we could not find our moral way forward after the slaughter in Sandy Hook with all those young children shot to hell and laying in pieces on the classroom floor I am not sure what needs to happen to snap the three-thumb crowd into action.   But at least this morning we are talking.  That is how sad and pathetic this country is when the most we can muster are words over guns.

The Washington Post pulls no punches.

The dramatic shootings that make the news remind us that guns are not noble instruments of freedom; they are highly dangerous machines that have some legitimate uses and many illegitimate ones. Any rational government would carefully regulate them. Instead, our leaders have declined to fix obvious loopholes in background-check systems, refused to ban wholly unnecessary high-capacity magazines, thwarted efforts to study the effects of having a society saturated with firearms and generally cowered before the lobbying might of a political fringe.

Nicholas Kristof has a most impressive read.

More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides every six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

■ More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history.

■ American children are 14 times as likely to die from guns as children in other developed countries, according to David Hemenway, a Harvard professor and author of an excellent book on firearm safety.

The lesson from the ongoing carnage is not that we need a modern prohibition (that would raise constitutional issues and be impossible politically), but that we should address gun deaths as a public health crisis. To protect the public, we regulate toys and mutual funds, ladders and swimming pools. Shouldn’t we regulate guns as seriously as we regulate toys?

We need universal background checks with more rigorous screening, limits on gun purchases to one a month to reduce trafficking, safe storage requirements, serial number markings that are more difficult to obliterate, waiting periods to buy a handgun — and more research on what steps would actually save lives. If the federal government won’t act, states should lead.

Australia is a model. In 1996, after a mass shooting there, the country united behind tougher firearm restrictions. The Journal of Public Health Policy notes that the firearm suicide rate dropped by half in Australia over the next seven years, and the firearm homicide rate was almost halved.

Here in America, we can similarly move from passive horror to take steps to reduce the 92 lives claimed by gun violence in the United States daily. Surely we can regulate guns as seriously as we do cars, ladders and swimming pools.

The New York Times weighed in on their editorial page.

Many politicians will focus on the gunman’s troubled personality and try to cast this shooting as a summons for better mental health care, certainly not gun control. Yet that ignores a grim reality: the estimated 300 million guns in America owned by a third of the population, far more per capita than any other modern nation. Guns are ubiquitous and easy to acquire, as statehouse politicians, particularly Republicans, genuflect to the gun lobby to weaken, not tighten, gun safety.

We all know no change is likely, for all the social media grotesquerie. The woeful truth underlying this latest shooting is more mundane than alarming. There are too many guns, and too little national will to do anything about them.

3 Comments
  1. tom permalink
    August 27, 2015 9:58 PM

    Pkarm:

    Most liberals believe that people are good by nature. This is to be commended. it speaks to the fact that liberals believe human beings are wonderful and full of potential–just as conservatives do. It demonstrates a faith in people, but only to a certain extent. When people do unethical or immoral (or, in this case evil) things, some other factor than the person must be involved and must have influenced the individual to behave in the manner they did. Therefore, the government (or the community of the politically correct, in our modern media environment) should do what is necessary to “correct” what has gone “wrong.” In this case, it is immediately too difficult to change the Constitution to eliminate the right of citizens to own guns, so there are only two feasible courses of action. The first is to impose increasingly restrictive laws on gun ownership. The second is to demonize those groups which defend the rights in question. While these steps might seem extreme to some, many liberals see it as their duty to impose what they see as right on those who–while good–are unable or uneducated or unwise. Liberal are not merely motivated by a sense of superiority, but by a genuine desire to help and make things better.

    Conservatives, on the other hand, do not share the belief that people are good by nature. They believe that people are only “good by choice and learning” and that they are often going to “choose” to do what is unethical, immoral, or evil–usually to serve their self interest. The role of government is then to “secure the rights” of the people by offering protection from those who would do evil–but to go no further. Conservatives support the many reasonable gun laws which are now in place and would likely support efforts to prevent mentally ill people from obtaining and using fire arms. We expect these laws are to be enforced. However, conservatives will hold the individual responsible for the choices and decisions they have made–and not whatever conditions, circumstances, or inanimate objects are present. Just as the individual must reap the rewards of his effort, so too must he be punished for immoral behavior. Conservatives believe that “choice” is primarily responsible.Conservatives note that there are likely many angry and sick men, but only a tiny fraction who express that anger in gun violence. There are many men who live in poverty, but only a tiny fraction who choose to steal. Those who live in poverty and do not choose to steal are virtuous–and the ones conservatives must be more willing to help. When we fail at this, we demonstrate our moral weakness.

    Thus, Deke believes that if the government would clamp down on the NRA, support for the right to bear arms would less, and it would be easier to impose more restrictive laws or amend the Constitution–and the end would be an admirable thing: fewer gun deaths.

    My point is not to criticize Deke, but rather to explain the context of his comments. Conservatism and Liberalism are opposing answers to the same question. Each of them, however, comes with a cost. Since conservatives believe that men are not good by nature and may choose to do evil or disregard justice to serve their own self interest, they fear an increasingly powerful central government would strip them of their rights. (liberals view corporations with the skepticism conservatives view government) Because they jealously guard their rights, it might be that some die who otherwise might have lived. This sucks, too.

  2. August 27, 2015 6:09 PM

    pk,

    I should like to take your head apart, put a fact in it, and watch it go its way through the runnels of your brain until it comes out your mouth.

    Then perhaps I could come to a conclusion what is wrong with you.

  3. August 27, 2015 11:31 AM

    Just remember the gun did not drive itself, the gun did not walk down the boardwalk by itself , the gun did not have a go-pro attested to it, and the gun most certainly did not pull its own trigger. There is only ONE answer to who is responsible for the tragedy yesterday,

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