The time it took most Americans to get over the shock of the news crew being gunned down on national TV last week could probably have been measured in pico seconds. As in, "Wow, that's horrible. (Pause) How's the traffic on the Interstate?"
Statistically speaking, it really wasn't that big a deal. On the average, nearly 300 people get shot every damn day in America. Eighty-six will die, including 32 who are murdered. So, if it was an average day, another 30 people were murdered by guns on August 26. Just another day in Gunville.
I remember reading a chapter in a book that listed all of the people in the U.S. who were shot to death on the same day President Kennedy was assassinated. One guy was killed because he had thrown a snowball at somebody. A small child was killed by his Coke-bottle eyeglass wearing brother who mistook his sibling for a squirrel. A guy who came home from a day of hunting and fishing put his shotgun on the kitchen counter next to the fish he had caught and was killed when one of the fish twitched and triggered the shotgun.
Thus the famous bumper sticker: "Guns Don't Kill People; People Kill People ... and Occasionally Fish Kill People With a Gun."
To underscore the ho-hum nature of it all, both Channel 4 and Channel 13 opened their respective late-night newscasts on August 26 with stories about some local guy who left some dogs in a hot car. I agree that it sucks for those dogs (which all survived), but REALLY?!
Some other random thoughts on the topic:
I used to be a nearly rabid supporter of strict gun control. When I was young, I didn't know one responsible person who owned a gun, and that included the members of the Los Angeles Police Department who patrolled the projects.
Now, I know lots of responsible gun owners. My friend Ian and his dad, Richard, are both salt-of-the-earth guys. They take me and my son out to the Gun Club west of town to shoot skeet and trap. When we first went, Ian was scrupulous in preaching and teaching safety at all times. They own a crapload of guns and nobody should ever have any reason to try to take their guns away from them.
I know guys who own guns for hunting and other guys who own guns as collectors. There is no reason to take their guns either. But then there are people who own guns so they can kill other people. The problem lies in the fact that the aforementioned gun owners don't seem to want to do anything about the killers because some of the political blowback might land on them. They convince themselves that the Second Amendment is absolute (no amendment is) and in order to protect their own gun rights, they have to spread the tent wide enough to include the would-be killers, as well.
I pretty much gave up any hope of political progress a couple years ago after a couple dozen school children were mowed down in their classrooms right before Christmas and the gun lobby saw to it that Congress did NOTHING!
People complain about the ineffectiveness of Congress, but it's got to be pretty hard to get anything done when you have to walk around all day with an NRA vice clamped down on your scrotum (and/or lady parts).
Speaking of the NRA, how much do you want to bet that they put out some kind of recruitment letter the day of the news crew shooting? Knowing tone-deaf Wayne LaPierre, it probably had something in it about "fighting the liberal media."
I'm afraid that it's going to take untold generations for the United States to reach a level of sophistication and civilization that is currently enjoyed in most other First World countries.
There are encouraging signs. The percentage of American households that have guns is just over 30 percent, an all-time low in U.S. history, and is trending downward. At the same time, the actual number of guns in circulation in this country continues to rise, so it's not all good news.
I wish I had a time machine so I could go back in time, pick up James Madison (who wrote the Second Amendment) and bring him to the present day. He would take one look at the gun violence and say, "Oh, hell no!" (Or maybe "Oh, hell-eth no"). After being dropped off back in 1789, he would mutter to himself, "Do these people not understand the meaning of the word 'militia'? I put it up front."
In a yucky coincidence, Aug. 26 was also the day that Wal-Mart announced it would stop selling assault rifles. Apparently, the ad campaign that touted "AR-15: The Gun of Choice For Schoolyard Massacres" had only limited success.
With next year being an election year, I would like reporters to ask pro-gun politicians to recite (correctly!) the Second Amendment. They'll claim that they would die to uphold it, but they can't even tell you what it says.
Finally, I saw an NRA mouthpiece on TV the other night and he trotted out the old line about "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns." Well, a whole lot of outlaws have guns now. What do you propose we do about them?