Friday, February 16, 2018

Mad as Hell? No...

In the 1976 film "Network," the character Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) tells us to go to our windows, fling them open and shout, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

With the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine's Day, I'm beyond mad as hell. There aren't even words for how angry I am.

Enough is enough.

If I had my way, guns would be gone. All guns. Everything from BB guns to ICBMs would disappear. Then the problem goes away.

But I don't have the capability to do that. Nobody does. That genie is out of the bottle.

We have a problem and that problem is the ease with which anyone can get a high capacity firearm in this country.

Before you post a comment about how this isn't about guns, look at the rest of the world. Australia had a mass shooting in 1996 (it's called the Port Arthur massacre). As a response, the Australian government enacted some of the strictest gun control legislation ever. More than 640,000 weapons were turned over to the authorities. There hasn't been a mass killing in Australia since 1996 and other gun related crimes dropped drastically.

The United States is the only major industrialized country that has this problem. People in other countries have mental health issues, too, but only in the US do those problems manifest themselves in this way because we have easy access to weapons that can allow us to act on our worst impulses.

"But what about the second amendment?" I hear you cry.

The second amendment to the Constitution was written in 1787 when the highest capacity weapon fired two shots per minute if you were well trained and in a hurry.

It also contains a section about "well-regulated" militia which is further spelled out in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. If you read that part, you'll realize that the second amendment was never about private gun ownership.

And the Constitution has been amended to repeal earlier amendments. We have the ability. What we lack is the will.

"But if someone wants to kill, they'll find another way to do it." Ah, there's that hoary old chestnut again.

It's possible. In fact, the greatest mass murder at a school was carried out by someone using explosives and a homemade timing device.

In 1927.1

Since then, explosives have been more highly regulated. And we don't see this kind of mass killing occur every other day.

The Oklahoma City bombing carried out by Timothy McVeigh resulted in regulations involving the purchase of fertilizer.

The simple fact is, in order to kill someone by another means usually involves a more personal and up-close commitment on the part of the killer. Stabbing, beating and even bombing means you have to get close to your intended victims.

The Las Vegas massacre killer was able to murder 58 people from a distance of 1200 feet in less than 10 minutes.

Yes, I'd like to see this sort of thing made impossible. If giving up guns means that another high school girl gets to plan for her graduation rather than her parents planning for her funeral, I say give them up. If giving up guns means that another 6 year old gets to fret over his lost tooth rather than his parents lamenting over his lost life, I say give them up.

Children screaming at a school should be with delight because they're having fun on the playground. It should never be in fear because someone with a grudge has had easy access to the weapon that will kill them.

It's time to give up the guns. You've played with them long enough.2

1The Bath School disaster carried out by Andrew Kehoe.
2When you mourn the loss of your guns, I'll send you my thoughts and prayers.