It’s pretty clear by now that expressions of empathy and supplications for divine intervention are no more effective in ending the continual carnage of mass shootings in America than is wishing on a four-leaf clover.
“Thoughts and prayers” are the equivalent of doing nothing, and doing nothing is exactly what the “from-my-cold-dead-hands” gun-huggers and their industry and political enablers want.
With the record number of mass shootings already this year — on average about one a day — the gun-huggers are finding it harder to convince an increasingly outraged, despairing and apprehensive public that restrictions on private arsenals are a greater threat to Americans than are recurring, random, can-happen-anywhere-to-anybody, bullet-blazing bloodbaths.
Nevertheless, even as the lethal danger of unfettered gun rights has become glaringly apparent, the gun-huggers stubbornly cling to their defensive arguments with the same obstinate tenacity as they do with their guns — which can only be taken from their cold dead hands, because of their cold dead brains and cold dead hearts.
All their arguments are dependent upon an abbreviated interpretation of the Second Amendment that wholly ignores the introductory clause qualifying firearm possession by citizens to a “well regulated Militia.”
That militia would be today’s National Guard, and not twisted teenaged miscreants wearing body armor and toting high-capacity, semi-automatic firearms designed to inflict gruesome maximum damage.
The late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, an appointee of President Richard Nixon, vehemently disagreed with the abbreviated interpretation of the Second Amendment, calling it a great fraud on the American people perpetrated by the gun lobby.
Burger maintained that the full language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument conferring unfettered gun rights on individual citizens.
In 2008, Burger notwithstanding, the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to possess firearms unrelated to service in a well-regulated state militia.
But, even in that case, as well as all the other Second Amendment cases it heard, the court, while affirming the individual right to possess firearms, ruled that right was not without limits.
And while many, maybe even most, gun owners agree that there should be reasonable regulations on firearms, the gun-huggers, dismissing the mounting heartbreaking evidence that restrictions are necessary for public safety, reject them all.
One of their most repeated objections to gun restrictions is that any restriction is an incremental step toward total prohibition of firearms. This argument has to assume that the Second Amendment would be repealed or that the Supreme Court would reverse precedents affirming individuals’ gun rights. After all, if the court can reverse abortion rights, why can’t it reverse gun rights?
Why? Because it would take three-quarters of the states to ratify repeal of the Second Amendment, or for the court to reverse all of its precedents affirming citizens’ gun rights, and then somehow override the Ninth and 10th amendments in order to totally prohibit gun ownership nationwide. Like that’s going to happen in any of our lifetimes.
Another eye-roller is a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. Well, maybe, sometimes, but too often only after a good number of victims have been butchered into hamburger by a maniac wielding a high-powered semi-automatic rifle.
Somehow a society in which millions of people are packing heat, either openly or concealed, doesn’t sound all that reassuring. How do we tell the good guys from the bad guys are? They probably won’t be wearing white or black hats.
Next, we have “guns don’t kill people, people do.” That breezy rationalization posits that mass murders are a mental health issue and would happen even without guns. Homicidal maniacs would use cars, knives, baseball bats or whatever to slaughter dozens of people at a time.
A psycho swinging a Louisville Slugger into a crowd can inflict a lot of damage but not nearly as much or as quickly and efficiently as one can shooting an AR-15 into a crowd.
The tools used matter. It is easier to commit mass murder with devices specifically designed to kill lots of people quickly than to repurpose other things to do so. Guns don’t require close proximity to the victims, and semi-automatics don’t require expert marksmanship — just point and spray hell.
And how is doing nothing to mitigate gun violence justified because other tools can be used to kill? Should we just resign ourselves to mass shootings because we can’t ensure mass murders wouldn’t happen using baseball bats?
Mentally ill people can be found in all nations, but most advanced civilized nations that have banned or heavily restricted firearms not only have infinitesimal incidents of mass shootings, but they also haven’t incurred spikes in mass murders by other means.
Gun-huggers will use the example of Chicago to argue that gun restrictions don’t work to curb gun violence. Chicago has among the nation’s strictest gun laws and yet some of the worst gun violence. What the gun-huggers ignore is that Chicago is a quick drive to adjacent Indiana where guns can be more easily purchased.
If anything, the Chicago example supports the case for federal gun restrictions that apply nationwide. When Congress passed a 10-year ban on assault rifles, 1994-2004, mass shooting deaths plummeted by nearly 50%. After the ban expired, those deaths skyrocketed by more than 200%.
Patriotic gun-huggers contend that private arsenals are needed to deter government tyranny. This may be the most arrantly asinine argument in the gun-huggers’ arsenal of inanities. If a tyrannical government comes to power, all the deer rifles, AR-15s, etc., in private hands will be like pea shooters going up against the most powerful military on earth.
Rather than resorting to armed insurrections or prolonged guerrilla warfare to defend our constitutional republic, try voting instead. Participate enough in our institutions of democracy to ensure they remain viable and can maintain constitutional rights.
Before stocking up on guns and ammo to safeguard liberty, consider who is currently working overtime to undermine our democratic principles, such as fair elections, voting rights and peaceful transfers of power.
This is an easy one, folks. Because we remain stuck with a duopoly, it doesn’t take much more than believing your own eyes to know which of the two major political parties is furiously digging away at the foundations of our democratic-republic — as well as obstructing gun control.
So, vote like your life depends on it.
It is well past time for America to grow up about gun rights and admit that current conditions are untenable, and that while gun violence can never be entirely eradicated — given the estimated 393 million firearms out there — there are various reasonable restrictions that can begin to significantly mitigate gun violence, starting with reinstituting the ban an assault rifles.
Rather than have Americans strapping on guns every morning, ready to shoot it out with the bad guys, or making America a sea-to-shining-sea armed fortress with Transportation Security Administration-like security at every public venue, wouldn’t it be more practical and safer to have reasonable restrictions on gun rights?
This is a public safety issue. Doing nothing but thoughts and prayers invites more carnage from which no one is safe. Contact your Congress critters and let them know you’re done praying. It’s time for them to pass serious gun-control restrictions with severe penalties for noncompliance.
— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.