About a dozen people, some victims of the Jared Loughner Jan. 8, 2011 shooting, made impassioned speeches to the Tucson City Council last week in support of a council resolution imploring the Congress to pass a bill strengthening gun-buyer background checks.
The speeches were heartfelt and heart rending. The horrors some of those people went through as a result of gun violence, and are still going through, can only be imagined by those of us who haven’t been touched by the senseless ravages of gun violence.
But the council’s vote, by its members’ own admission, was symbolic and will do little to budge the Congress.
There is little a local municipality can do to combat gun violence, other than to ensure its police officers are numerous, well-trained and well-armed themselves. But a police state is hardly the “land of the free.”
The supposition is that the solution to gun violence is in the hands of the Congress. The Congress, alas, is useless these days, so thoroughly bound up in partisan bickering and brinksmanship games that it’s only capable of changing the names of post offices. Legislation as important as sensible gun ownership and use restrictions, or a budget, or immigration reform, are but the sticks and stones the childish legislators use to pelt each other with.
No, the solution lies with all of us. Gun ownership advocates – who draw slippery slope arguments from their holsters faster than they draw their shootin’ irons – through the National Rifle Association have captured the Republican party and taken the nation hostage.
Any legislators (especially those not in “safe” districts) who dare to stick their necks out and suggest some sort of solution to the gun violence terrorizing this nation face the wrath of the NRA and its minions and millions who will work to take from said legislators that one thing they hold most dear – their office.
The U.S. Supreme Court has said the Second Amendment gives Americans the right to keep and bear a firearm, but even the conservative justices who most recently affirmed that right have said sensible restrictions on how Americans keep and bear those arms would likely be Constitutional.
But until there is a counter-balance to the gun manufacturers and their toadies in the NRA that is ready to do battle with the gun lobby, armed equally with millions of dollars to spend on lobbyists and politicians and that has its own legions of impassioned members, then the madness will continue..
Background checks would not have prevented Jared Loughner (6 dead, 13 wounded), Nick Delich (1 dead, two wounded), James Holmes (12 dead, 58 wounded), Seung-Hui Cho (32 dead, 25 wounded) or Nadil Hassan (13 dead, 29 wounded) from obtaining guns. All were mentally ill but had not been adjudicated so, which is the only way a background check would have stopped them from buying a gun.
Nevertheless, there are other laws we could pass that might reduce the amount of harm men like the above can do.
We could limit caliber size and powder amounts, we could limit magazine size, we could restrict the amount of ammo that can be purchased and the amount of accumulative totals of ammo one can own, or we could require gun owners obtain liability insurance before purchasing a weapon.
None of those ideas would restrict a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms and none would likely have prevented any of the mass casualty shootings above.
But it might have lowered the body count.
Gun manufacturer nirvana is all Americans owning guns, which the slippery slope zealots argue will make us behave in public because we’ll all be afraid of each other.
Is that the kind of country we want?
We can solve the problem of horrific gun violence in this country.
We just have to want to.