Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown, and now Washington D.C. Once more a crazed gunman opens fire with an assault rifle and once more innocent lives are lost. The body count this time around is 12. These shootings are now happening with such frequency they can no longer be referred to as random. According to a story in the Huffington Post, there have been six mass shootings in the past nine months alone and 20 during Barack Obama’s presidency. The question begs to be answered. How many more innocent people must suffer needlessly before America finally comes to grips with its 200 plus year-old love affair with guns?
Two things are certain: 1. we haven’t seen the last of these horrific tragedies; and 2. once more we will hear from the gun-nut contingent just how sacrosanct the Second Amendment is and how we better dare not touch it.
We do not yet know whether this latest maniac – Aaron Alexis – actually brought the rifle onto the D.C. Naval base or whether he simply used a hand gun to kill a security guard and then took the rifle to go on his shooting spree. So far as I’m concerned it’s irrelevant. If he brought the rifle in with him, then how did he get a hold of it in the first place? If he took it after shooting the guard, then the NRA’s ridiculous claim that the only way to stop a bad man with a gun is with a good man with a gun just went out the window. In this case, the “good man” appears to have been Alexis’s first victim. Take that, Wayne LaPierre.
The time for waiting is over; the time for action long since passed. The Second Amendment was never intended to be a license to shoot up the country. This isn’t the OK Corral. No other nation in the Western world has this many gun-related homicides, nor would permit such atrocities to occur without taking responsible measures to ensure they do not happen again. And while it is true that there is no such thing as a law which can guarantee the prevention of all violent crimes, a civilized society owes it to itself to at least try its best to eradicate as many as possible.
The political obstacles are immense. Just the other week, the NRA successfully forced the recall of two Colorado state senators who supported gun control laws. In Washington, President Obama has his hands full with Syria and a looming government shutdown. Just try finding a congressman in a swing district or a senator in a swing state who will have the courage to say what must be said.
Violent video games are not the problem. Other countries have violent video games. Mentally ill people are not the problem. Other countries have mentally ill people. The common denominator in each and every one of these massacres is the use of a gun, specifically an assault rifle. These weapons are so efficient at killing that even the Army restricts their use. And yet in most parts of the country it is easier to purchase one of these lethal weapons than it is to adopt a dog or cat.
Those of us who are properly outraged must not be cowed by those who think it crass to speak up. David Frum, a conservative with a brain, is right when he says “Gun enthusiasts say it is inappropriate to talk about gun violence at the time it occurs. Better to wait … and wait … and wait … until time has passed, and the weeping next of kin have vanished from TV, and it’s safe to return to business as usual. The idea of the gun enthusiasts is that the way to show respect for the victims of gun violence is to do everything possible to multiply their number.”
It’s time to wake up America!