The latest gun massacre, this time in Isla Vista, California is barely a two day story in the media. We have become anesthetized to mass murder by gun, the only differentiation from one story to another being the sheer number of men, women and children who are killed. And as the blood spills and the tears flow, the National Rifle Association and their enablers in Congress and on the Supreme Court continue their pompous perversion of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, the national body count be damned.
Statistics have a tendency to numb, but they also inform. There are over 30,000 gun related deaths in the United States every year. Since 1982 there have been 70 mass shootings in this country, 36 of them having occurred since 2006. This alarming trend is no secret. It is in the newspaper headlines, the television lead stories and in the countless obituaries that are published every day.
The Bill of Rights was never intended to be the Ten Commandments, and there is nothing absolute about any of these “rights”. Freedom of speech has not been understood to include the publication of child pornography or threats to kill the President of the United States. We are all free from unreasonable search and seizure, but that right can be limited by a search warrant.
The logic that suggests that the Second Amendment to the Constitution is somehow sacred would be ludicrous but for the deadly price that we all pay. This logic has resulted in a demented approach to the regulation of guns that is really a series of loopholes connected by disjointed and fragmentary controls that still result in an annual death toll of over 30,000 Americans.
Too much time has been wasted on arguing about exactly what the Framers of the Constitution had in mind when the Second Amendment was proposed, written and ratified. Some legal historians believe that the Second Amendment referred to the establishment of state militias (think the National Guard). Some legal scholars believe that the Second Amendment refers to the actual possession of guns by individuals. It does not matter.
What matters is that the United States has become one vast, coast to coast killing field. What matters is the over 80 Americans who are killed by guns every day. What matters is that there is no mall, church, theater, school or street in this country that is truly safe from the plague of bullets that afflicts without regard to race, color or economic status.
Too much time has been spent accepting the legitimacy of the lunatic argument that the only solution to gun violence is more guns. If that sounds about as ridiculous as putting out a fire with a flamethrower, it is because that is the case.
Gun legislation which legalizes death by gun through laws like “Stand Your Ground” and legalizing the carrying of guns in bars, churches and universities doesn’t even begin to seem like a solution in a country where it is a tossup as to which is the greater health danger – carbon monoxide or gun smoke. And the claim that the gun has some kind of iconic, quasi-religious place in American culture only enables the gun worshippers on the altar, drenched with the blood of gun victims, an altar bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association and the merchants of death also knows as gun manufacturers.
The rest of the world looks at the United States in bewilderment as the scenario of Americans killing Americans plays out every – single – day, without respite. And while time and money is wasted on the War on Drugs, the Gun Lobby is waging a War on America. And they are winning.