There's no safety in our vast numbers of guns

Via the L.A. Times

Via the L.A. Times

Steve Lopez's column in the L.A. Times has a sub-headline that reads, "Americans' love of guns keeps growing; lawmakers are cowed."

Lawmakers are cowed.  People die because lawmakers are cowed. Children were shot to death because lawmakers are cowed. Of course, that's not the only reason, but it's well worth emphasizing.

Another reason is that we love guns. Apparently, some of us love guns more than they love people. I wonder how many of those people call themselves "pro life."

As Lopez notes:

  • We in this country have more than 300 million guns, which is nearly one for every man, woman and child.
  • In 1969, Gallup reported that 60% of Americans supported a ban on handguns. In 2011, a Gallup poll found that only 26% wanted a ban.
  • Between 2001 and 2010, about 270,000 U.S. residents died in shootings, including homicide, suicide and accidents.

Lopez goes on to say...

In this country, you can legally buy assault weapons. What does that say about us?

Think about it. We have a national legislative body that fears the clout of the National Rifle Assn. more than it worries about the consequences of allowing people to buy weapons designed for war.

My home state of California has a ban on automatic weapons.  State Senator Leland Yee, a Democrat, had introduced a bill that would have closed a loophole that makes it possible for gun owners to more quickly and easily reload their weapons. He made an effort to save lives by suggesting something reasonable and responsible.

Want to know what the reaction was?

The gun lobby had pulled out all the heavy artillery against SB 249, which was supported by the California Medical Assn. and the California Nurses Assn. Yee said he was flooded with racist, vulgar and derisive comments and caricatures, and that some of his critics told him to go back to China.

See how reasonable and responsible they were in return?

The vast majority of gun violence does not involve people with mental health issues. But when mental health services are in short supply for many people, guns are nearly as easy to buy as garden tools, and violence is used to sell music, movies and video games, the shocking thing is that we don't have more tragedies like Connecticut.

The idea of responsible gun regulation is not to kick down doors and "take away" anyone's guns. And owning more firearms wouldn't exactly be an effective defense against Big Government's drones and tanks, should they decide to use them against their own citizens the way those on the right seem to think President Obama will do.

And laws alone won't stop every massacre. But by making it a little more difficult to spray bullets at toddlers, mall shoppers, teachers, theater goers, and students like my own son, by reducing opportunities for the wrong weapons to get into the wrong hands, and by removing as many weapons of war from the streets as possible, then maybe a few more people will live to see their children grow up and even feel a little safer about their own futures.