Gun Violence, as American as Apple Pie

Written by Ralph E. Stone. Posted in Crime, Culture, Law, Opinion, Politics, Religion, War

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Published on December 06, 2015 with No Comments


By Ralph E. Stone

December 6, 2015

Another mass killing in the U.S. This time in San Bernardino — 14 dead, 21 wounded.  We say ho-hum as gun violence has now become an expected event in our every day lives.  Consider that since 2006, there have been more than 200 mass killings in the U.S.  Americans have seemingly come to accept gun violence as long as it doesn’t directly effect them or their love ones personally.

Americans love their guns.  In fact, in many states it is legal to carry a concealed weapon on private property, including places of work and worship.  While we abhor the killings, too many of Americans are loathe to give up our Second Amendment “right to keep and bear arms.”

Some follow the National Rifle Association (NRA) lead that any gun control law is an infringement on this right. Or as NRA board member Ted Nugent put it, “losers” who don’t carry a gun “get cut down by murderous maniacs like blind sheep to slaughter” and “any law, any regulation of guns is unconstitutional.” Following NRA advice, on Black Friday, there were 185,000 background checks, reflecting gun purchases, even as Robert Dear killed three and wounded nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

Given past history, a Republican-led Congress is unlikely to pass any federal gun control legislation. Remember, the Congressional failure to extend the Federal Assault Weapons ban, which expired on September 13, 2004? Then in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia V. Heller struck a blow against gun control laws, holding that Americans have a Second Amendment “right to keep and bear arms.” While this decision does not mean that federal and state governments cannot pass and enforce gun control laws, ievery such law becomes subject to an NRA court challenge.

In the wake of the December 2012, killing of 20 children and seven adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, we thought a tipping point had been reached and Congress had finally had enough.  It was not to be.  Congress failed to reinstate the assault weapons ban. Other legislation failed to pass, including tougher laws on straw purchases and illegal gun trafficking, efforts to increase school safety, keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and universal background checks, and restrictions on the size of magazines so as to reduce the number of bullets that can be fired before reloading is required.

As President Obama has argued, states with gun control laws tend to have lower gun-related death rates.

Despite this, Americans seem to be resigned to the fact that nothing will be done to stop the killings.  Gun control, at least at the federal level, is not going to happen any time soon, if ever.  in the wake of the San Bernardino killings, Republicans in Congress made it clear that they will not be moving quickly to bring up new gun control legislation.

Sure, there will be much short-term hand wringing and mass media coverage over this latest horror, but then in a week or so life will go on as usual until the next atrocity. I wish it were not so, but too many Americans have accepted, or resigned themselves to gun violence as a fact of American life.

Gun violence has become as American as apple pie.

Ralph E. Stone

I was born in Massachusetts; graduated from Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School; served as an officer in the Vietnam war; retired from the Federal Trade Commission (consumer and antitrust law); travel extensively with my wife Judi; and since retirement involved in domestic violence prevention and consumer issues.

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