Last year's massacre of twenty young children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the more ghastly tragedies in recent American history. Yet given the Virginia Tech massacre, the tragedy at Columbine, the shootings at Chardon High School, which is to say nothing of the high incidence of these mass killings at movie theaters, temples, and shopping malls of late, does the newest carnage really seem unexpected?
Groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns and The States United of America have spent years campaigning religiously for stricter gun laws. This effort has mostly fallen upon deaf ears. For my own part, six months ago I published an article suggesting we need to reinstate the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, since far too many mass killings — including the James Holmes massacre — involved Federal Assault Weapons (in his case the AR-15).
While the last thing I ever wanted was to be prescient about the danger of federal assault weapons, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary seems to have confirmed my worst possible fears. Adam Lanza may have carried a a 10-millimeter Glock and a 9-millimeter SIG Sauer, but his principal weapon of mass destruction was an AR-15-style assault rifle (Bushman .223) that he used to shoot innocent children as many as eleven times each. This weapon of carnage also offered him many "high-capacity clips" —which clearly facilitated the gruesomeness of this rampage. Had Adam not stopped and taken his own life the results might have been even more unthinkable.
So why isn't more being done?
Obama's Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children's Safety is simply not enough — for it is unlikely concrete changes will occur.
Members of Congress can barely stand to be in the same room with each other, let alone pass a decent budget. The National Rifle Association is in favor of hiring armed guards, and, who knows, perhaps, next, arming children with AK-47s, and so, as far as can reasonably be assessed, more months will pass with business as usual. Meanwhile, most Americans are afraid to speak out since they don't want to get shot for their anti-gun opinions by a gun-owner who loves his weapon nearly as much as he loves using it.
Lincoln saw this as a country of the people, for the people, and run by the people. But it's not even close. After all, a recent CBS poll shows that support for gun control is at a ten-year high, with 57% of Americans favoring increasing restrictions on weaponry. This is a majority. The majority should rule. But it doesn't. Lobbyists rule. Cash rules. It's absurd.
I'm in favor of it all. Background checks (so private sellers at gun shows, flea markets, or selling firearms through the internet are finally regulated). (According to Mayor Bloomberg, "40 percent of guns are sold that way"). Limiting the sale of magazine clips. Taxing the sale of bullets. Reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Instituting mandatory training requirements. (In Washington State, sadly, there are no training requirements to purchase guns).
The president should issue an executive order to make every one of the above happen. It is within his power. If President George W. Bush found it within legal capacity to capture and torture terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay then Obama can order tighter gun laws. Now. Without Congress.
While all of the above will not solve the problems of gun violence it would be a great start. These measures can help us live in a safer, more harmonious world. They can allow us to sleep soundly knowing we've done what was necessary to protect Americans.
Personally, I'm sick of waking up and hearing about another school shooting or rampage in a movie theater every few weeks. It's reached the point of absurdity. Innocent people have become little more than target practice. We regularly witness the kind of gruesomeness previously relegated to such video games as Grand Theft Auto and Halo 4.
What's next? Is a 5-year old killer going to dress in a trench coat and shoot up a maternity ward? Do nursery school kids have to go to bed with a TEC-9 under their pillow? Is a baby going to go on a shooting rampage in a Presbyterian Church? Obama needs to issue executive orders to curb these abominable acts. We're a nation that deserves better.