As in past mass shootings, elected officials across the nation take to the airways demanding “we do something.” Once again, our President utters the same cry to Congress: “do something”. But our representatives typically fail to even mention the estimated 100 million guns illegally acquired in circulation or the estimated 300 million legally acquired. Even an immediate end to gun sales would leave the U.S. with a larger civilian arsenal than all western nations tougher.
Yet we often hear demands for better background checks. Or more monies for mental health programs. But no suggestions to reducing the astonishing large 400 million weapons in circulation throughout the nation. Indeed, our representatives even have difficulty over whether illegal ownership ought warrant incarceration.
Seems our elected representatives expressing their outrage really have no detailed plans on how to end gun homicides in our nation. Not much discussion about the 10,000 annual gun homicides in our major cities. Nor is there much discussion on how to substantially reduce the annual 30,000 auto death toll. Or even the annual 100,000 death toll from opioids including Fetanyl crossing the southern border. Or reducing the large flows of illegal weapons from Mexico. If all lives are equal why don’t we care about violent ends?
Even if we offered serious incentives for the 300 million legally owned guns in circulation to be turned in, we’d still have 100 million illegally owned weapons in circulation. That’s clearly an untenable situation. An America where gun ownership isn’t legally possible beset with 100 million illegally owned weapons is a clear non-starter.
Clearly the “big elephant” in the gun control problem is how to remove the 100 million illegally owned weapons from circulation. Many are owned by otherwise law-abiding citizens living in major cities beset by sharply rising violent crime and dispirited police forces subject to “defunding.” Possibly a draconian solution of $500 or even $1000 buybacks and mandatory serious prison sentences for illegal possession might help. But for a nation where tens of millions go hunting, it’s hard to imagine America is willing to give up its guns.
Truth be told America is in a unique position with respect to guns and occasional mass shootings. No other western nation matches or even comes close to our lethality from firearms. Some have suggested we’re also a standout when it comes to violent movies, TV, websites, social media, etc.
And those familiar with our complex history of both internal and external wars well understand our history of violence. Together with widespread gun ownership we have a uniquely American major league gun violence problem. And our elected leaders haven’t even begun to seriously talk amongst themselves or with the public on how to help resolve our gun violence issues. Nor is the public seemingly impressed by figures suggesting we’ve killed more of our own citizens by gun violence than those who have given their lives to preserve our freedoms fighting for our liberties here and abroad.
If we’re to make any serious headway on this notoriously difficult challenge we need demand our elective representatives begin doing some serious discussions. Otherwise, we’ll continue to have mass shootings as far into the future as one can imagine. And as a nation we need to begin to ask why we can’t do better than accepting 10,000 gun homicides yearly in our big cities, 30,000 annual auto fatalities and 100,000 opioid fatalities. We need to realize we’re all in this together. Every life is precious. And calls to defund the police aren’t helpful.
Finally if we can’t begin to seriously discuss our gun violence problem in America after a horrific mass shooting of young children at school then when would be a better time?
Peter I. Berman