Instead of trying to stop voters from voting, states should stop semi-automatics

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 heinous 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 Newtown tragedy.

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.

 

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