America’s foreign policy and defense establishments have long concerned themselves with the threat to our nation and to global stability posed by weapons of mass destruction in the hands of adversaries, enemies, and governments of questionable sanity. But in the wake of the latest national tragedy of people, including primarily children, slaughtered by a manic committing mass murder using semiautomatic weapons, our country desperately needs to address the domestic use of WMDs by Americans against ourselves. Because unless you want to quibble about how many people constitute a “mass” when they are being destroyed, certainly automatic and semiautomatic rifles and handguns are specifically designed as WMDs, intended to kill as many people as possible and as fast as possible.
Our Supreme Court regularly reaffirms the ostensible right of Americans to own and operate guns, including these WMDs. As debatable as this interpretation of the Constitution remains, generally outlawing citizen ownership of guns is both politically impractical and likely indeed unconstitutional. But clearly, we ought to be able, even within the constraints of the most gun-toting interpretation of the second amendment, to significantly regulate who qualifies for gun ownership, what guns they are qualified to own, and the terms under which they may own them.
Which bring us to the National Rifle Association and their partners, the gun manufacturers, who own and operate enough legislators to thus far prevent any effective regulatory restraint on their mission of putting the most possible guns in the hands of the most possible people, to the point that they aid and abet the current insanity of state legislatures encouraging our return to Tombstone, with a gun on every hip. Their justifications for virtually unlimited and unregulated gun ownership would be laughable if their intent was not so tragically insidious. The paranoid wing argues that they need military-grade assault weapons to protect themselves from some fantasized totalitarian takeover (no doubt by an army of ivy league liberals). They will even tell you that registration of such weapons would allow power-mad feds to specifically target the weapons of these modern-day minutemen, thus eliminating all resistance to the loss of their freedom to pursue their cherished libertarian anarchy. The more sane community of hunters claim they should be allowed the fire power of modern weapons, which seems to suggest less of a sporting chance for their prey, or the need to defend themselves from an attack by a crazed mob of deer. They insist that even for target practice, semiautomatic weapons are necessary, as though having to rechamber a bullet is just too tedious and time consuming.
And then we have the gun lobbyists who try to put the latest massacre “in perspective,” telling us that guns are among the least frequent causes of violent death and that there is no provable correlation between increased gun control and any decrease in murders. And while that may in fact be true, except for the possibility of reducing membership in the NRA and the profits of the gun manufacturers, it totally misses the point of what sensible regulation, strictly enforced, could accomplish.
It seems to me the legitimate reasons to own a gun can be arguably limited to (1) an apparent need for self defense, (2) the sport of hunting, or (3) the recreation and/or competition of target shooting, none of which should be significantly hampered by increased gun control. I cannot imaging how self defense, hunting, target shooting or even Justice Scalia and his disciples would be constrained by (a) banning ownership by the general public of the myriad of murderous assault weapons now available to any crackpot in kakis with a catalog and a credit card, (b) requiring a license for the purchase of a gun, (c) conducting a reasonably thorough background check of prospective gun owners, (d) registering every gun to its owner who would be legally responsible for its use unless and until it was reported lost or stolen, and (e) making illegal possession of a gun a major felony. Some states may indeed have such laws, but they need to be federally mandated and enforced by the FBI.
Would any or all of the above result in less gun violence and fewer episodes of mass murder? It seems logical to think so, but in any event, it would surely make us look and feel like a more civilized society, instead of questionably using our Constitution to protect the revenue of the NRA and the gun makers by justifying arming ourselves to the teeth, and then piously lamenting the deranged lunatics who for whatever demented reasons turn their personal arsenals of WMDs against us and our children.