ARE MASSACRES REALLY A COMPLICATED PROBLEM?
By Robert V. Wills
As I indicated at Discussion Group Saturday night, I don’t see why the endless string of gunshot massacres in the United States is such a complicated question. It really boils down to the one obvious factor present in the United States and absent in the rest of the globe.
All of the elements present in U.S. massacres are present all over the world—all except one. Angry racists, furious fired employees, and nobodies seeking notoriety are present in every country. So are violent video games and movies. So are schizophrenic loners and social rejects of every stripe. Of course we have psychopaths and oddballs. But so does every society, and murder is as old as Homo Sapiens’ history and will always involve humans wracked by stress, rancor, or delusion . . .
No, the pure and simple cause of American massacres is our one unique factor: the assault weapon and the clips and magazines that allow mass homicide in minutes. No other nation on earth makes it legal for a non-military, non-law enforcement individual to own an assault weapon. Its only purpose is to kill multiple humans quickly. There is no other use for it, either in hunting or self-protection, and never has been.
And don’t for a minute get suckered by the N.R.A. argument that the founding fathers specified in the Second Amendment that every U.S. citizen is entitled to “bear arms,” meaning almost any arms. That baloney has persisted because no one ever read the precious Second Amendment carefully and in the context of 1789 “arms.”
Someday the Supreme Court will rule rationally on the amendment and empower the Federal and/or State legislatures to add assault weapons to the list of dangerous items that no non-military, non-law enforcement person can use, own, or possess—an atomic bomb, a machine gun, a 500-pound bomb, a flask of Sirin, or any other lethal device capable of mass homicide in minutes.
Senator Feinstein got a ban on assault weapons through Congress in 1994. It never got challenged by the Supreme Court: yet the Republicans refused to extend the ban in 2004.
With Trump in the White House and Mitch McConnell running the Senate, there will be no ban on assault weapons. So stay tuned for a lot more massacres and a bushel full of thoughts and prayers in a semi-civilized, paranoid world . . .
Robert V. Wills