The problem is not illegally obtained weapons.
It’s not background checks.
It’s not school security.
It’s not keeping track of criminals and people who have mental health issues.
It’s not even violent video games.
In the case of the Newtown murders, none of these issues was a factor. The guns were legal. Their owner had obtained them legally. The school had a good security system. We don’t know about the murderer’s mental status or whether or not he used violent media, but as far as we know he had not been diagnosed with a condition that would have precluded his owning firearms. He had no criminal record.
But it didn’t matter.
What we do know is that on that day, the murderer had ready access to guns designed to kill many people quickly and easily, and he had plenty of ammunition.
New laws about background checks, school security and all the rest won’t make any difference. The real problem is that this nation is saturated with guns. We have so many guns we can’t escape them.
According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:
• The U.S. has an estimated 283 million guns in civilian hands.It is far too easy to purchase high-efficiency killing machines. You can get it all delivered right to your door, as I learned to my horror recently: http://quodlibet-sarah.blogspot.com/2013/01/loaded-special-delivery.html
• Each year, about 4 to 7 million new firearms are manufactured for sale in the United States.
• Gun ownership is highly concentrated. Approximately 20 percent of gun owners own 65 percent of the nation's guns.
• Approximately one-quarter of U.S. adults owns a gun.
• The average number of guns per owner has increased from 4.1 in 1994 to 6.9 in 2004.
The only sensible solution is to get rid of the guns. We need to to 1) outlaw possession of all firearms and ammunition except those that are designed and used for sport, such as hunting [ugh] and target practice; and 2) conduct a nationwide buy-back program; and 3) destroy those guns.
The biggest factor in gun violence is the ready availability of guns and ammunition, particularly the kinds of weapons designed to kill large numbers of people.
As long as the firearm manufacturing industry continues to control our lawmakers, hundreds of millions of firearms will continue to be produced for sale in this country, assault weapons and plenty of assault ammo will be legal, and there will continue to be myopic, sociopathic resistance to sensible gun control laws.
The blood bath will continue.
In the month since the Newtown murders, more than 900 Americans have lost their lives to gun violence. That number rises every day. Search "gun deaths since Newtown" and see what turns up. If you're not disgusted and frightened, then please examine your heart.
According to the Brady Center, 86 Americans die every day from gun violence.
There’s a good chance that while you were reading this essay, one of your fellow citizens was shot and killed.
I am ashamed of what we have wrought, and I am frightened for us all.