It is not too soon. Today’s the day to talk about guns in the aftermath of the horrific tragedy that took place just a few short weeks ago in Las Vegas.
Let’s start the discussion with some math. This country averages about 90 deaths by gun per day. That is about 33,000 gun deaths per year, every year. Compare that statistic to Japan which had one gun death last year. That is one.
Want more math? The population of this country is about 320 million and the number of guns in this country is about 265 million. Of those 265 million guns about half, or 130 million guns, are owned by only three percent of the population. 78 percent of the population do not own a firearm.
Here’s an even better statistic: with only about five percent of the population, the United States accounts for 50 percent of all guns in the world.
One more statistic: there have been, to date, 273 mass shootings, or shootings that take at least four lives, in the United States this year.
Now let’s add up all the numbers and what do we get? It is time to do something because doing nothing is not working. In the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in our history, a record which seems to be broken every year or so, the Republican Congress said “too soon.”
If it is too soon to talk nationwide solutions after the Las Vegas shooting, then what about every other mass shooting that occurred prior to Las Vegas? Still too soon?
Whenever a comparison of owning a deadly firearm is compared to the requirements of owning and driving a car you hear the claim that car ownership is not covered by a constitutional amendment, as is the “right to bear arms” in the Second Amendment.
The fallacy of this argument is that, as stated by Justice Antonin Scalia in the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, the government still maintains the right to place some restrictions as it did with the First Amendment, when it used the example of the restriction to not yell “fire” in a crowded movie theater if there is no fire.
Likewise, with firearms, the government instituted a ban on automatic weapons some 80 years ago that is still in place without any talk of a violation of the Second Amendment.
So why not some simple nationwide safety requirements as is required for the use of automobiles? Many of these very requirements are already required by several states but, as everyone realizes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and gun access is only as restricted as the requirements of the most lax state.
Regulations pertaining to automobile ownership include such requirements as driver training, a written test, a driving test, health requirements, liability insurance on each vehicle owned, renewals and inspections on a regular basis and title and tag at each point of sale.
Now, of course, the reaction to this argument is that criminals will not obey such requirements and they only serve to penalize law-abiding citizens. I’ll remind you that Stephen Paddock, Adam Lanza and a litany of other mass shooters were all law-abiding citizens until they were not.
Having some controls in place could have identified potential deadly actions before they occurred. In the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre was quick to point out that if Adam Lanza did not have access to legal guns, he would have gone to the “black market” to get them.
To that I say NONSENSE! I doubt very much Adam Lanza would have a clue as to how to access the black market for guns. Having access to a semi-automatic weapon in his own living room made that issue a non-issue.
The evidence is clear that nations such as Australia and South Africa saw drastic drops in firearm homicides after passage of drastic gun laws that included barring powerful weapons like automatic rifles, implementing universal background checks, and requiring permits and licenses for gun purchases.
The positive results in these nations counters the NRA argument that more gun laws is not the answer.
Interesting that while Republicans, including Trump, have hidden behind the claim that discussing solutions is “too soon” in the Vegas aftermath, Republicans are still pursuing pro-NRA legislation including making it easier for citizens to acquire silencers for guns as well as making it easier to acquire conceal-and-carry privileges.
These two efforts will certainly not make our communities safer from gun violence.
The hypocrisy of pursuing this legislation to benefit gun manufacturers to the detriment of the safety of our citizens while eschewing any efforts to improve gun safety is hypocrisy at its most deadly.
Congress likes to say we need to better enforce gun laws already on the books. If so, I suggest they cease underfunding ATF so that the gun show and internet loopholes to background checks can be more effectively enforced.