By Marc Jampole
To think that the killing of 32 college students at Virginia
Tech in 2007 once marked for many the epitome of the unspeakably horrific. Now we
see even worse—the mass murder of 20 children aged 5-10 and seven of their
teachers, followed by the killer’s suicide.
What could be worse than the killing of these innocents to
the psyche of any nation? Like parents everywhere, I remembered when my son was
that age and I must say he was delightful, as were all his friends and
classmates and the kids of my cousins. It’s the golden age of childhood, at
least for most parents. So most of the
country felt the loss in a visceral way that made the mass media coverage seem
all that much more tedious and pedestrian.
The little we know about the killer convinces me that lots
of people knew this kid was a loonie, including his mother who nevertheless
kept a .223 caliber rifle in the house. Without getting into the essence of the
second amendment, which I believe has been stretched apart by gun rights
advocates, what person ever has the need for a semi-automatic weapon, either
for hunting or for protection? The
semi-automatic is the weapon of choice of mass murders. Let’s just outlaw it.
I don’t see how anyone’s rights suffer infringement if we
prohibit gun ownership in households in which someone is having or is under
treatment for emotional and mental problems. The argument that someone who
wants a gun will find a way to get one is completely rhetorical once you look
at the alarmingly high statistics for gun deaths by friendly fire or of other household members.
Outlawing semi-automatics and tightening restrictions are
two moves that might stop a lot of mass murderers from committing their henious
acts, or at least slow down their planning and/or execution.
Unfortunately much of America doesn’t seem to agree with me.
As Charles Blow reports in his weekly column in the Saturday New York Times, 53%of Americans don’t support a law making
it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic weapons. Of course that survey was taken before the
State legislatures everywhere have passed laws that make it
harder to vote in most cases overruling the wishes of the people who elected
them. In the case of voter suppression laws, the states were addressing voter
fraud, a non-existent problem. You would think that despite the opposition of
the electorate, state legislatures would now vote to ban assault rifles and
strengthen restrictions on firearm ownership. Don’t hold your breath
It seems as if the Unites States has been betting against
the dice for years and now it’s catching up to us. Sandy and Katrina
demonstrated that we have been wrong not to listen to the engineers and build
levees, barriers and sand dunes to protect population from the effects of
global warming. And now we see once again what happens when we let guns
proliferate and remove restrictions on their possession and use; we see it in
the faces of the grieving parents and in the imagined faces of our own
children—dead by gunfire, never again to smile at you openly or hug you in the
warm unaffected way of the eight-year old.