Cain hit Abel with a stone. Brutus stabbed Caesar with a knife. Henry Thaw shot Stanford White with a pistol. In the song, Frankie shot Johnny with another pistol. The Boston Strangler used stockings. I wish it were different, but while we can decrease the number of killings with new laws and tougher enforcement, there is nothing that will completely stop people from murdering other people once in a while with whatever is at hand.
Humans are also good to other people. That happens, too. But this essay is not about that. This is about killing. And there is something new in the mix. It is plain as the nose on your face. Today, if you are angry, disturbed, bored, wishing for money or whatever, there is a knife and a pistol, but now also a semi-automatic submachine gun. So every few weeks we get a slaughter of civilians somewhere in our country.
Before the 1989 mass shooting in Stockton, California took 5 lives and left 29 wounded, assault weapons were not bought much in the U.S. In 1985, there were fewer than 4,000 assault weapons in the hands of private individuals in America. Today, assault weapons are a raging epidemic—more than 1.2 million were sold privately in 2017. It is a catastrophe.
Gun enthusiasts—I am not one—say the Second Amendment gives them the right to bear arms. Okay. Guns have been used in America and elsewhere by private individuals for hunting, defense of a home, skeet shooting, sport or target practice. But for hunting you don’t need a submachine gun; for sport you don’t need one; and for protection you don’t need one. I can’t think of a single instance where a gun that fires 30 bullets every 20 seconds makes any sense for civilian use. None.
Obviously, one major way to stop the slaughters we are experiencing every few weeks at schools, churches and everywhere else is to ban submachine guns. How can anyone argue otherwise? We know it works. In Australia, after 35 people were killed by submachine gun in Port Arthur in 1996, they banned such weapons. Before the ban they had 13 mass murders in 18 years. Since the ban, zero.
We also have the experience for the period of 1994 to 2004 when assault weapons in America were banned from being sold. Existing assault weapons were not rounded up. Nevertheless, the number of deaths from mass shootings declined by 43% from the 10 year period before.
The approach that apparently is going to be undertaken with the present administration is to ignore the elephant in the room and blame it all on mental illness. Fix that, you solve the problem. It’s nonsense. The killings will continue. Mass murders are being perpetrated by gamblers, white supremacists, religious fanatics, star-crossed lovers, angry teens, quiet folks you’d never expect would do such a thing. And yes, the mentally ill. Don’t believe Trump’s logic that says if there’s one illegal-alien rapist in California, we have to wall-off Mexico.
The losers? That will be freedom of speech. There will be regular Americans who say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and the new wild goose chase will lead to situations similar to that for boarding an airplane. Say the wrong thing at the wrong time, they throw you off.
But how do you throw people off the planet? Well, I suppose we will build locked facilities with wardens and psychiatrists and guards for anybody who says in anger “I will kill you” a few times either really loud or on Facebook or Twitter. Or any poor soul who a psychiatrist says is afflicted with a mental illness.
It will solve nothing.
Get AR-15 guns and those like it out of the hands of private individuals. Demand they all be turned in. Pay people to turn them in. If they are not turned in, arrest anybody who owns one.
The senseless slaughters will continue until we do. Save our children.