Oh, the many meanings!
Just when we finally thought we had begun to gain an edge on the coronavirus with the shots to immunize, comes two incidents where shots rang out and killed 18 more Americans. It’s enough to make you retire to your favorite bar and start up on some of the third meaning of the word.
This blog has written many times about gun violence. I’m against it. That sounds trite, but if it is so banal to be against firearm violence, why is some reining in of the violence beyond the ability of our legislators in Washington to put into force? There are two answers and neither is surprising—money and politics.
The gun lobby is powerful both in the form of the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers. Both groups line the campaign coffers of mostly Republicans who constantly oppose any legislation that would curb access to lethal weaponry.
The NRA wants people to have the freedom to buy any firearm at any time and to do so without a background check and without registration. So do the gun makers. Pushing back are millions of Americans who have had enough of the heartache perpetrated by weapons of war on the streets of America. Why can’t the last group triumph? That’s where the politics come in.
There are a lot of Americans, especially in rural and Southern states, that want free access to all weapons, even assault-style weapons. Why? They like them. There is no other possible explanation. You don’t hunt with an AK-47 or at least you shouldn’t and it’s certainly not needed to personally protect anyone’s home. These truly are weapons of mass destruction and as such need to be outlawed in the hands of civilians. These guns are for police and the military. And I understand that the Second Amendment allows militias to form, but this damage to American lives is not being done by militias (except on January 6). And that gets us to the last piece.
Beyond a doubt, the shooter in Boulder, Colorado like so many others of these violent men will probably turn out to be mentally ill. Like the rest of our health care system, the system to care for those with psychological illness is a disaster. People simply do not get help until it is too late. This even applies to doctors who face burnout rather than admit that the stress of patient care has tipped them over into the unwell zone of coping.
We now have a president who gets this. We didn’t with Mr. Trump who only wanted to appease his followers in red hats and assault rifles rallying to lock various people up with whom they disagree.
The latest two mass shootings will make it clear that the mental health system is failing those in need and their access to weapons of butchery is simply too open. Congress must act. Increase the waiting period. Extend it to all gun sales even private ones. Increase the penalties for breaking these laws and finally ban assault-style weapons from being in the hands of private citizens. We need to concentrate on the coronavirus shots, not those that kill innocent Americans. And make no mistake. This is a uniquely American problem requiring a uniquely American solution. President Biden—forward that bill to the Congress and let’s see where everyone stands. Mr. Schumer—get it on the floor of the Senate. No further hearings are needed. This simply has to stop.