Not a game

So the left scored last Friday when a white Christian maniac with a gun killed people in Colorado. As Gene Rayburn would say, turnabout is fair play, and the righties got a good one when a brown Muslim killed people in San Bernardino.

Shame on anybody who thinks like this.

The color of the trigger finger is not the issue, nor is the ideology of the shooters. The problem is that maniacs and stupid people, the cruel, the calloused, the damaged, the deluded and the insane can load up on weapons of war and thousands of rounds of ammo without breaking a sweat.

I can’t help but think that the fact that just about anybody in this country can get a semi-automatic rifle (including people who are not allowed to fly on airplanes because they’re considered too dangerous) it encourages people to do so. If this couple in California, with a 6 month old, could only have purchased handguns, shotguns and hunting rifles, maybe they wouldn’t have been as tempted to commit such quick mayhem.

We’re encouraging a video game mentality. I don’t use the term “Wild West” because the so-called Wild West wasn’t anywhere near as violent or casual towards violence as 21st century America.

The difference between Americans and people from other wealthy industrial countries can’t really be that profound. The fact is that when crazy people in Europe can get guns, they do crazy things. Brevik in Norway got guns, killed a whole lot of people. The terrorists in Paris were able to bring automatic weapons into France, committed mass murder. When people could get guns in Australia they had mass murders. When the guns were removed from the equation, it stopped.

What we clearly lack is the political will to take the actions that all sensible people understand are necessary. We banned automatic weapons in the ’30s, and thankfully even the NRA agrees that should continue. We need to go further, unfortunately without the support of the NRA this time, and ban assault style weapons that have no purpose except killing humans. There is simply no legitimate reason for these weapons and the high capacity magazines to be circulating in our society. There is a compelling societal need to curb these weapons. Recreation doesn’t cut it as a good reason to keep them.

We did attempt to ban these weapons of war once, but it was allowed to lapse. The ban was flawed because the approach was not comprehensive, so it was open to appropriate criticisms. But where there is a will to make this work, as there was in Australia after their Port Arthur Massacre, we can make it work.

With more than one mass killing a day this year, the surpassing insanity here is the lack of political will to change it.

P.S. Heard a criminologist from the University of Alabama on the radio this morning make the same argument I’m attempting to make here. The availability of guns creates these events. Moreover, the availability of weapons designed to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time is like giving electronic keyboards to the Brits in the 80s – it just encourages them to commit carnage.*

*Albeit what New Wave music represented was just aural carnage, and in fact, I do like a lot of that music. 


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