“There’s nothing I can do about it.” “That’s the price of freedom.” “It’s a mental health issue.” “Guns don’t kill. People do.” “Thoughts and prayers.” And, of course, there’s the old reliable excuse we hear following every mass murder: “Now is not the time to talk about solutions.”
Of all the possible reactions to mass shootings and gun violence, those have to rank among the worst. They are the equivalent of saying, “I don’t care…move along…nothing to see here…it didn’t happen to anyone I know.”
And move along they do.
The MAGA Party and its NRA sponsors continue to ignore the 10-million-pound elephant in the room: Guns. And, in fact, they continue to make matters worse by passing laws to encourage and increase gun ownership. Since the 1970s, we’ve seen them legalize conceal and carry. We’ve seen them legalize open carry and permitless carry. We’ve seen them legalize silencers and bump stocks that can turn a semi-automatic rifle into the equivalent of a fully automatic weapon. We’ve seen them pass laws to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits. We’ve seen them pass 2nd Amendment sanctuary laws to make it illegal for state authorities to cooperate with federal authorities, such as the ATF and FBI.
And we’ve seen them pass laws to protect the life of a gun (in some red states, it’s illegal to destroy a confiscated gun, even those used in crimes)!
What we haven’t seen them do is pass laws requiring universal background checks or red flag laws to keep guns from those deemed mentally unstable and dangerous. We haven’t seen bans on 3D printed guns, ghost gun kits, or Glock switches. We haven’t seen them do anything to stop the illegal trafficking of guns to Mexican cartels. We haven’t seen them pass laws to ban AR-15s, AK-47s and other weapons of war.
And, of course, we haven’t seen them do anything to protect the lives of school children, grocery shoppers, theatergoers, concertgoers, and bankers.
To the MAGA Party, the NRA, and the gun lobby, mass murders in the US are like reading about Russian war crimes halfway around the world – sad and regrettable, but they remain secure in the belief that such tragedies won’t affect them personally. That’s probably what some of the parents in Uvalde thought until it happened to them. Or the people in Nashville or Louisville or Buffalo or…fill in the blank with your city of choice. There are hundreds, if not thousands of mass murder sites to choose from.
The reality is that gun violence is now the number one cause of death for children. One in 25 American kindergartners won’t make it to their 40th birthday because of guns. As of this writing, we’ve already experienced more mass shootings (150) in the US this year than we’ve experienced days (103). And we’ve already lost 11,888 lives to gun violence.
It’s not like we don’t know how to stop it. Though we have a greater incidence of gun violence than every other nation on Earth, we don’t have a greater incidence of mental illness. We don’t have a greater incidence of poverty than most. And contrary to MAGA beliefs, more Americans are religious than in other wealthy nations.
What sets us apart is the number of guns (there are more guns in the US than there are people) and a misguided reading of our Constitution’s 2nd Amendment. (As former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger said, “The gun lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”)
It doesn’t have to be this way. The rights granted by the 2nd Amendment, like all other rights, are not unlimited. We can restrict the types of guns sold. We can demand background checks, we can restrict the age of gun owners, we can demand safe storage, and other common sense safety measures. And, if we’re serious about ending gun violence, Australia has already set an example for us to follow.
If such measures result in economic hardships for gun manufacturers? Well, thoughts and prayers.