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Domestic Peace Is Bad For The GUN Business

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Message The Pen

Every day they try to fill us with fear. "The terrorists are coming over here to get us," they say. And why WOULDN'T the terrorists want to come to Virginia, for example? Why they've got some of the most lax gun laws anywhere, where even a deranged non-citizen can freely buy a high-powered assault weapon. And its not just people from overseas, criminals from all over the eastern seaboard come to Virginia in particular to buy their guns, so they can go commit crimes in other states.

The blood had not even dried on the classroom floors of Virginia Tech before the NRA launched its own offensive, in the media and in email blasts, to argue that what we really need to do is turn all our teachers into pistol packing sheriffs, and our colleges into something out of the wild west. There are only two categories of people who oppose any kind of gun regulation, lobbyists for the gun manufactures themselves, and people with personal Rambo fantasies. And the latter are possibly the LAST people who should be armed with deadly force.

The fact is that for every private citizen with the skill and JUDGEMENT to effectively intervene against someone else shooting a gun, there are many more Rambos in their own mind who would end up getting even more people killed including themselves. For every gun in a home used for successful defense against an attacker, there are many, many more used in suicides, or killing by accident, or end up stolen. Those are the statistics and they don't lie. You remember Marvin Gaye, don't you? He was killed in a family argument by his own father with a gun he bought for his father's protection.

It has never been enough to be a law-abiding citizen to be armed with a lethal weapon. With gun rights come gun responsibilities. You must be trained to use a weapon responsibly. And nobody should be able to purchase such a weapon unless they can first demonstrate this, any more than someone should be allowed to drive a car without at least first passing a driving test, together with an eye exam and a written test. They passed a law in the last Congress that said you were required to attend a special class before you could declare bankruptcy. Why not also to own a gun?

It probably would not hurt at all to also have every applicant interviewed by someone trained to spot personality disorders, such as the kind that were so obvious to anyone who knew the mass murderer to be at Virginia Tech. The faculty there had already reported him to local police as a possible lunatic. And yet he was allowed to just walk into a gun store, where other murder weapons had been purchased, and walk out with a gun. There is something very broken about a system that failed to stop this.

Having more guns in this country in the hands of people who can't handle them doesn't make us more safe. It makes us all LESS safe. Many of the guns already in the hands of criminals were originally sold legally (though perhaps under the most feeble of laws), and the more our society is awash with guns, the more guns criminals will get, to steal if they have to. The more guns the NRA can sell us, the more they will tell us we need to buy to "protect" ourselves from the ones already sold. What a deadly, murderous racket.


What we need are minimum federal standards on licensing requirements before gun purchase, and probably a ban on any gun transfer outside that system. Even in the reddest of the red states you will find few people who think that anybody, including any criminal, should be able to buy a gun with no questions asked. There are some who only want to read the words they like from the Constitution, but our founding fathers intended gun ownership to be "well regulated," which is exactly the situation we do NOT have now. They even let the assault weapons ban expire.

The overriding federal problem is that as long as there are loose jurisdictions from state to state, city to city, guns will be oversold where the laws are weak, to make mayhem there, and bring it to everywhere else. And that's exactly what gun manufacturers do in a premeditated way. A relatively small number of outlets do land office business, and are the distribution point for most of the guns that end up being used in crimes.

Ever eager to exploit gruesome tragedy for a photo op, president Bush said at their memorial service that the victims were "simply in the wrong place at the wrong time." Yeah, they were in the wrong place all right. They were in a state where an unstable person can get a high powered lethal weapon without any meaningful regulation or oversight. He might well have added that our state and city borders no longer protect us.

It's time for us to stop allowing the loud mouthpieces for the gun industry to bully us with threats of violence. The way to start getting guns off the street is to stop putting them ON the street so casually and without forethought. In his farewell rant the latest mass assassin wrote "you caused me to do this," whoever it was he blamed for his own heinous acts. But he neglected to include a thank you to the NRA, for ENABLING him to do what he did, only to be used as their new poster boy for why our entire society should be turned into an armed war zone.

What about the 32 innocent people he slaughtered? What happened to their inalienable Constitutional rights? Are you shocked by 32 dead students and teachers? Suppose you heard on the news that the number was 32,000. How would you react to that? More than that many die from gun violence INSIDE this country every year, about highest rate for any country not in the third world or actively at war. Of course we're doing the war thing too. What are we doing so wrong? Ask the gun manufacturers. It's good business for them . . . never been better.
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