Violent Nation or, Gun Shy Congress?

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Since the 1960's, there is a growing frequency in upset individuals using their 2nd Amendment access right to guns to mow down numbers of people. America is hands down the most gun violent nation in the world. NY City alone with 8 million people has 100's of times more gun violence than all of Great Britain and Wales, despite Great Britain having several times more people than NYC.

The debate is back in the forefront of Congress and the media over gun control vs. people control. But that debate is for simpletons. The problem of gun violence in America has a host of reasons and causes and is a very complex phenomena with opponents and proponents with vested interests to every possible remedy. But let's dispel a myth being promulgated on MSNBC and other media outlets at the outset. The Virginia Tech. mass killing was not the greatest massacre in American history. That reputation belongs to the Sioux at Wounded Knee, herded into a hole by the hundreds of women and children and old people, and murdered where they stood with no defense by our own government.

That corrected, the massacre at Virginia Tech. is the gravest in modern times. It begs for remedy after the grieving period has relented and rational debate can ensue. By no means an exhaustive list, some major contributors to America's violent reputation include:

  • Availability and easy access to guns.
  • Violent history to which young people are inescapably indoctrinated to in the study of our nation's history.
  • Violence as a genre in our entertainment media
  • An almost complete abandonment of any national mental health system, since the 1970's, and a legal incapacity to interdict and help individuals before they go terrorist on innocent people.
  • A fear of butting into other people's lives and business even when we see abuse taking place
  • An out of control social tolerance for violence amongst school children on the buses they ride, in the school yards during recess, and in and around their homes.
  • A complete absence of any kind of voluntary and freely available classes or instruction on non-abusive parenting
  • A nearly complete abandonment of the concept of effective rehabilitation for violent criminals.

Though the concept has millions of proponents, confiscation of guns from citizens in America is NOT a realistic option. It would require a Constitutional Amendment and the numbers to pass such an amendment just don't, and likely will never, exist. Gun access laws designed to control who may purchase a weapon and under what conditions have been around since the 1960's when legislation was passed stating that the mentally unbalanced and felons may not purchase or own weapons. Those laws have never been comprehensively enforced and little has been done to dry up the illegal underground markets in untraceable firearms.

America has spent monumentally more public funds fighting marijuana, LSD, and other recreational drugs, than control of illegal weapon possession and distribution. There is a fundamental unbalance in this priority setup, given that illegal weapons account for thousands upon thousands of more deaths in America than recreational drug usage. If America is going to become fearful, enraged, and grieving over the lethality of violence in our society everytime we see a headline of double or multiple homicides, it is clear our spending should be more appropriately aligned to address that violence.

The short list of reasons and causes of gun violence in America above suggests, in and of itself, courses of action our people and government can take to address the issue. But, there is a paradox here. Our interest in addressing the issue only rises to the top of awareness when a Columbine or Va. Tech incident arises. We tend to be immune to the staggering statistics of gun violence taking place every day in America where there are only 1 or 2 non-youth victims, or the victims belong to youth gangs.

The paradox is complicated by the fact that Americans do not wish to address gun violence as a single issue, as large numbers immediately complicate the issue with arguments against capital punishment and against abortion, which do nothing but impede progress in addressing the gun violence issue in America. Our representatives are equally guilty of complicating the solutions.

Take for example Rep. Betty McCollum's objections to firearms manufacturer immunity from civil liability 2 years ago, and Rep. Duncan Hunter who expressed horror and revulsion about the Killeen massacre, yet has voted against every single bill designed to restrict access to guns.

One representative, Carolyn McCarthy, who lost her husband and whose son was shot in the head in the NY Subway massacre some years ago, has, in my opinion, the more rational approach of targeting NOT guns themselves or the 2nd Amendment for law abiding citizens, but, in laser like fashion, legislation that would address gun violence specifically, with the emphasis on 'violence', not guns. Rep. McCarthy has introduced several such bills in her freshman tenure in the Congress, and the media is beginning to take notice of this woman's narrowly focused approach, as she is now appearing on major networks and C-Span.

I believe Ms. McCarthy is on the right track. America, if she is going to address gun homicide, must sidestep the enormously contentious 2nd Amendment and legal citizen gun ownership issues and address the illegal gun markets and access to guns by the mentally impaired and convicted criminals in our society, many of whom make obtaining a gun one of their first priorities upon release from prison.

But, we must go even further as a society and begin to address the issue of abuse at all levels, and in all institutions in our society, from parental violence and child abuse, to bullies on school buses and in school yards, to rehabilitation programs for first and second time offenders who are disposed to own a firearm for any of a number of reasons. And accidents with firearms should be a crime, even when committed by our vice-president. Any person who is legally capable of purchasing a firearm should be sufficiently tested and or trained to insure an accident with the firearm does not occur while in their possession.

It is a complex problem. It requires comprehensive, but tactful, solutions, which give deference to our 2nd Amendment without giving deference to gun violence and crime or, profiting from it.

Our Congress is, as a majority, gun shy on this issue and it will take a continuous drum beat of demand from the public to move their consensus toward policies which are effective without harming our Constitutional liberty. We are the most violent nation in the world when it comes to gun homicide, but, we don't have to perpetuate that infamy. And we, the voters, have an obligation to vote out incumbents in Congress who stand in the way of these measured and rational approaches.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on April 18, 2007 3:32 PM.

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