In the wake of the recent mass shootings at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, David Berkowitz says that America has a gun problem.
Berkowitz should know. From 1976 and 1977, he terrorized New York City with a shooting spree in which he shot 13 people, killing six. In a letter left near one of his crime scenes, Berkowitz called himself the “Son of Sam,” hence the strange moniker. After his capture, he said he was driven to kill by a demon that had possessed his neighbor’s dog. Berkowitz was also a postal worker at the time, and his demonic handiwork was perhaps the first instance of someone “going postal.”
He recently told the New York Daily News that gun violence in the United States has simply gotten out of control. From his prison cell, the Son of Sam lamented to the Daily News, “Society has to take the glory out of guns. Young people have no business carrying a gun.”
Don’t tell that to the National Rifle Association and their surrogates in Washington and in state capitals across the country. Not only does the NRA oppose virtually every attempt to regulate guns, it actively encourages kids to get involved. The NRA offers “junior memberships” to children under the age of 15. In fact earlier this year, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum announced that his three year-old daughter, Bella, had become an NRA member. That’s right. Three.
There is a dejecting sense of apathy when it comes to America’s gun policy. Despite widespread fear among gun enthusiasts that President Obama is going to take away their guns, he’s done virtually nothing on this front. The pro-gun control Brady Campaign has given Obama a grade of “F” for his record, or lack thereof, on the issue. At no point did Obama even attempt to revive the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which had expired in 2004, as a Republican-controlled Congress and White House yawned at the prospect of renewing it thanks to intense lobbying by the NRA. If that ban had still been in effect, one of the weapons James Eagan Holmes used in his shooting in Colorado, the AR-15, would have been illegal.
The U.S. has gotten in the awful habit of repeatedly witnessing a horrific mass shooting, wallowing in the aftermath by tsk-tsking the tragedy, wondering “what went wrong,” and then doing absolutely nothing about it.
And so, as a result of this apathy, we’re left with unlikely—indeed, downright bizarre—sages. When David Berkowitz starts lecturing your society about its endemic gun problem, something is most definitely messed up. And for once, it isn't Berkowitz.