The most dangerous place to be in America may well be anyplace outside your home. If you are Black that may not be safe, at least at night when the police are around. Aside from my snide remark the issue at hand is mass shootings.
A house of worship – not safe.
A school – not safe.
A supermarket – not safe.
A movie theater – not safe.
A hospital – not safe.
A nightclub – not safe.
An outdoor country music concert – not safe.
An Independence Day Parade even in an upper middle-class neighborhood – not safe.
Fear – don’t leave home without it!
On the Monday neighbors gathered along the sidewalks to watch a parade in Highland Park, Illinois. Shots from an assault rifle rang out and seven people lost their lives. As of this writing the 21-year-old shooter is facing seven counts of first degree murder which, if convicted, will send him to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
Mass shootings have become better than an everyday occurrence in America. In the vast majority the weapon of choice is an assault style rifle with a high-capacity clip(s). The shooters are overwhelmingly young white males with a huge social media presence.
Just days ago, Congress passed what they are terming gun safety legislation. The word I used to describe the bill was “crummy”. Perhaps I was a bit tasteless and “grossly inadequate” would have been better. In any event we gave the gun loving (or is it beholden?) right wing an excuse. It was obvious, while a baby step in the right direction, that this legislation would not do much to stop America’s gun problem. Yes, America very much has a gun problem!
I can see the gun useful idiots (a/k/a Republican office holders) saying we passed gun safety measures and this proves they don’t work so why would we entertain more? The truth is that the legislation was woefully inadequate and didn’t address the biggest issues.
I will concede that there is no one law or series of laws that is a panacea. Simply look at recent American history and apply a bit of critical thinking analysis. We can come up with legislation that would significantly reduce the occurrence of mass shootings.
The most obvious move is to outlaw assault style weapons. We did it before and it worked. The reality is that nobody has a legitimate need for this type of weapon other than the military or law enforcement while on duty.
The next is to outlaw high-capacity clips, again with those same two exceptions. The job of the military is to kill enemies and I never want to see the police outgunned. You don’t need high-capacity clips to hunt or for target practice.
With the exception of the willfully blind, it has become apparent that marketing is playing a significant role in these mass shootings. I’m very much a capitalist but when you are marketing a product that has been demonstrated to kill mass numbers of humans in very short periods of time then shielding you from liability is not in the public interest. This doesn’t mean that a gun manufacturer will automatically be held liable and put out of business by the lawsuit; it merely makes the lawsuit possible. Plaintiffs lose lawsuits all the time. Its kind of the conservative principle of being responsible for your actions – in this case advertising.
My last basic suggestion is that the owners of guns be required to have liability insurance much like we require liability insurance for many other things. I’m sure the insurance industry would vary the rates depending on the type of weapon along with the owner’s age and gender much like they do on other forms of insurance. It is basically an actuarial table predicting risk (and the only legal discrimination I’m aware of in America today).
Finally, this legislation must be national to be effective. I’ll use myself as an example. I can be in Virginia in less than an hour and South Carolina in less than two. What good is a local or even statewide law?
Oh, and here is my biggest fear: on the off chance that Congress actually passed a law(s) implementing my suggestions what do you think the chances are that the Supreme Court would strike it down as unconstitutional? Keep in mind they just struck down a sensible New York State gun law that protected the public. Unless we rein in the Court legislation will prove to be inadequate and a constitutional amendment will be the only solution. Good luck with that one!
There will be no safe place in America until the voters make it so.
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