President Obama asked people to consider what we fear from terrorism, versus what we fear from guns. CNN put this together to show the relative risk:
We apparently have no qualms about giving up our freedom and civil liberties to respond to terrorist threats. But guns? All we hear is SECOND AMENDMENT!!! SQUAWK!
Imagine you’re at a gun show, standing in line behind four guys: a recently released felon, a terrorist on the FBI’s terrorism watch list, a man convicted of beating his wife unconscious, and a guy muttering about “hearing voices” who has been legally designated mentally ill.
Right now in many states, all four men could take their pick of sophisticated weapons, plunk down their cash, and stride out the door without looking back.
Would that freak you out? Yeah, me, too. And we’re not alone: Ninety-two percent of Americans, including 85 percent of NRA members, agree that every gun sale should require a universal background check, no matter where you buy it.Sure, some bad guys will still get guns. But you know what? It's generally not the bad guys walking into the university classrooms and slaughtering people. And the fact that we can't fix all gun crimes with a modest policy doesn't mean we shouldn't fix what we can.
As one who makes a living in a university classroom, frankly the idea that a disturbed student or outsider could get a gun and "solve" his problem that way, is terrifying.
American exceptionalism isn't just because of guns, but a perfect storm of lax gun laws and other ills. So we murder far more people than nearly any other country, and certainly far more than other developed western democracies. From the WaPo:
There is far more to both gun violence in general andmass shootings in particular than just guns. The absence of a universal healthcare has made the prison system the principal provider of mental healthcare in America. The mentally ill in the US are less likely to diagnosed, less likely to be treated and more likely to be criminalised than anywhere else in the western world. The presence of mass poverty, significant economic inequality and widespread racial segregation combine to produce desperation, resentment and fear.
Other countries have these problems to lesser or greater degrees. The difference is that no other country has these problems and then a huge stockpile of easily available weapons to virtually anybody who wants them.
And so the requiem continues. A painful elegy for a nation careless enough to lose its innocence on a weekly basis, one which can expend extraordinary resources looking for water on Mars yet is apparently incapable of finding a way to keep its people safe in cinemas, colleges and churches.There are sensible ways to restrict some access to guns without infringing on the rights of otherwise normal people who want have machines meant for killing: limiting high-capacity magazines, for example, and more rigorous background checks.
But the conservative gun advocates are afraid that any sensible control of guns is the start of a slippery slope of gun confiscation.
How can it be that vast majorities of Americans, including gun owners, favor stricter background checks, and yet there’s not the political will to pass them?Fear of government, apparently. And paranoia, if you think of it, is not a good fit with guns to begin with.
...focusing exclusively on the lobbying angle overlooks the very real fear and distrust with which many gun owners regard the government that drives much of the opposition to gun laws. Many of them simply don’t believe that enhanced background checks—or whatever other modest changes are proposed—are what they appear to be.I have friends who are smart and sensible, but who are ardently opposed to any change in gun laws. They seem to offer no solution to the massacres. They don't like the solutions others offer, however modest, but they offer nothing themselves except more guns.
I can only think that to them, Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech and Umpqua Community College are simply collateral damage, as they touch a handkerchief to their eye, and thank these children and young adults for their sacrifice to the God of the Gun.