[update below] [2nd update below] [3rd update below] [4th update below]
This is one of the guns James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, used in the movie theater the other night. It is quite simply insane that such weapons should be available for sale over the counter. No civilized country allows this. None, except, of course, the United States. But even in the US it wasn’t always so, not until the political system went off the rails, with the Republican party’s lurch to the extreme right and the quashing by the Blood Lobby, a.k.a. the NRA, of any debate on gun control. I note that the unhinged right, in responding to the Aurora massacre, is hiding behind the sacrosanct Second Amendment and arguing that if the theater-goers had been armed, Holmes would have been neutralized and the massacre prevented. Right. Only in America would mainstream voters of a major party of government offer up such crackpot nonsense and with straight faces to boot.
As for the Second Amendment, it is quite certain that the Founding Fathers, were they around today, would be appalled at the interpretation presently lent to it by the right-wing (and by the Roberts Court’s politically motivated ruling in DC v. Heller). When the Second Amendment was drafted and debated back in 1789, it was quite clear that it referred to organized militias, as Garry Wills definitively explicated and laid to rest seventeen years ago in The New York Review of Books (see article here and follow-up exchange here). The Founding Fathers may have been a bunch of slave-owning white men but, for their time, they were wise men—well, a few of them were at least—and never intended that the Constitution give the right to some wanker to purchase an assault rifle or pack heat in a public place. The American Constitution does have its flaws—some major—but it’s not that wacky of a document.
It would be interesting to know how American right-wingers explain the numbers in the image below. Even when taking population into account, the second most homicidal country on the list, Canada, has a gun murder rate one-seventh that of the US. If any right-wingers out there want to try to explain this one, to give it a stab, as it were, I’m all ears.
UPDATE: The Atlantic has a piece on “A land without guns: how Japan has virtually eliminated shooting deaths.” In the conclusion it mentions ”Tunisia, which had the lowest firearm ownership rate in the world…when its people toppled a brutal, 24-year dictatorship” last year. BTW, firearm ownership was also very low in Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia in 1989. Do the gun nuts out there have any thoughts on this?
2nd UPDATE: Ezra Klein has a post in WaPo on “Six facts about guns, violence, and gun control.” Note in particular numbers 2, 4, and 5. As for n°3, the reason for it is kind of obvious I think. (July 24)
3rd UPDATE: In a NYT op-ed, Michael A. Black, a 30-year Chicago police veteran, says that an armed America is not necessarily a safe America. (July 26)
4th UPDATE: Likewise on the NYT op-ed page, Iraq war veteran Andrew Jensen says that the domestic American arms race is a race we can’t win. He points out, among other things, “that there isn’t a single example of a concerned bystander with a concealed-carry permit who stopped a mass shooting” since concealed carry laws have been enacted in the US. He also observes that
There will always be violent loners. If they don’t kill with guns, they’ll find some other way to do it. Semiautomatic weapons, however, are what enable them to shoot dozens of people in a movie theater.