So here is a question. Do crazy people who buy guns often kill people, or do people who buy guns often go crazy and kill people?
I ask because, as anyone even remotely aware of the news knows, more and more children, women and men, are getting murdered by gun-wielding assailants who do not necessarily have either criminal records, or diagnosed serious mental issues. In fact, such attacks are so sadly routine that they barely make the front page anymore. The exception of course is the recent killing of seventeen students in Florida. The sheer number made news.
It’s important to look into this chicken-and-egg relationship between sanity and gun crimes because for years, the National Rifle Association has trumpeted that random killings would cease if the government kept a record of who is crazy and who is not, and kept firearms away from those who are. It’s a ludicrous proposition only someone short of brain cells would put forward, and it violates every constitutional belief, but there you are. No one has ever accused the NRA of being rational. Almost as insane–no, come to think of it, even more delusional–is the idea of arming teachers. Let’s add another half-million handguns to the armory. What could go wrong? When the inmates run the asylum, this is the sort of rational we end up with.
The thing about guns is they inflict death without the physical involvement of the shooter. We are rarely told that someone went on a rampage with a baseball bat or a set of tire chains, or killed twelve colleagues at work by bashing them with a desk chair before escaping in a Ford Explorer. Such an attack could be stopped, and even if successful would be too messy. Blood, flesh and hair all over the miscreant… And so it doesn’t happen. People, be they deranged or not, very rarely commit such untidy acts. But a gun is a clean, shiny toy that kills from a distance; no fuss, no muss.
Even a borderline mental case, a functioning member of society with, let’s say, severe anger issues really doesn’t want to be showered with blood and entrails, and this is what prevents him from truly going postal. Cleanliness is an American virtue, right up there with godliness, and our man will shrink away from violence that requires a personal touch.
Now give him a gun, a way to make his destructionist wishes come true without soiling his Costco jeans and shirt. Depending on his skills, he can kill from inches or yards away with nary a drop of body liquids to sully his day.
Honestly, I think there’s something to this. I believe a gun can be a catalyst, the impetus needed to push past the last restraint. A gun requires no physical strength, no effort or exertion, just a spasm of the index finger. There’s no skill needed if you’re blowing someone away from four or five feet.
Realistically, we’ll never get the unfortunate people with shattered realities off the streets, nor should we. Nor will we ever get the 300 million guns registered. We will not get really serious laws punishing gun theft, gun crimes, or illegal gun sales. The existing system is so overtaken with gun lobbyists that change doesn’t stand a chance.
So now we return to my favorite suggestion: Let’s legislate the purchase of ammo. Let’s pass laws to make sure bullets are sold to responsible people. Yes, of course it will take years to exhaust the existing supply, and certainly some enterprising bootleggers will manufacture projectiles, but still. It would be a start when, at this point, we have no start at all. In fact, we’re going backwards when it comes to gun control.
Come to think of it, the truly unbalanced people responsible for all the deaths are the legislators. If they were sane, we’d have laws in place already.
Really. We would.