Friday, December 14, 2012
Rachel Weeping for Her Children
During an interview this fall, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was asked repeatedly what he intended to do about assault rifles. He deflected the question several times before finally saying something like, “Why are you asking me about that, even President Obama isn’t going to do anything about assault rifles.”
Sad but true.
Both parties are so fearful of the NRA that they will not put forth even the mildest plans to limit the availability of guns.
When Bob Costas talked (in the mildest terms) about the “gun culture” in the United States and in the NFL after Javon Belcher shot his girlfriend and then killed himself, there was widespread outrage, not that we had endured another senseless gun death, but that Costas had the bad manners to talk about it.
We can all agree, before we go any farther, that whenever we talk about something like the killings in Connecticut this morning, or Aurora, or Columbine, or Javon Belcher, we are talking about people who are mentally imbalanced. And we can all agree that we need to do more about mental health, and that mentally unstable people should not have access to lethal weapons. All of that is true, but if we had reasonable controls on guns, we wouldn’t be talking about 20 dead children in Connecticut.
Sticks and stones may break your bones but they are nothing compared to a semi-automatic weapon with lots of ammunition.
We are not number one in the world in gun deaths. In fact, we are 28th. Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Jamaica, and almost two dozen other countries are ahead of us. But we are number one among wealthy developed nations. And among those nations, it isn’t even close. The gun murder rate in the United States is nearly 50 times as much as the murder rate in England or France. That means that Americans are 50 times as likely to be killed by a gun as people from England or France.
In this country we have as many licensed firearms dealers as gas stations.
Gun reform will not come easily. There will be massive and well-funded resistance. Proponents of reform will be vilified (just ask Bob Costas). But we need to try. We owe it to the future, but most of all, we owe to those little kids in Connecticut. Nothing can bring them back, or ease the grief of their parents, but reform would be a living legacy.