"This" is a NEWS story ???


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F4GIB
April 20, 2007, 06:36 PM
Fri Apr 20, 2:54 PM ET

"I have more guns than I need, but fewer guns than I want." --Former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas)
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After all, a man is entitled to amass guns if he wants to. No law against it, that's for sure. (Not in Texas, anyway.) Then again, those who have lost loved ones to gun violence may understandably feel a tad less gung-ho than Gramm.

A short list from just the last decade: an Amish school in Pennsylvania, schools in Wisconsin, California, Kentucky, Oregon, New Mexico, Georgia, Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi. And Colorado. Columbine.

And those are just the schools.

Guns.

As common as candy, as American as apple pie. If only they were as harmless.

Think
Iraq is violent? It is. In March alone, 600 Iraqis died. During the same period here at home, 3,000 Americans died in gun-related violence. It's the same every month. Eighty gun deaths a day. Thirty-thousand a year. Over 30 years, more Americans will die from gun deaths than died in all the wars this nation has ever fought.

If drugs were killing that many Americans, we might call for a War on Drugs and the White House might appoint a Drug Czar to oversee it. Oh, wait -- we have actually done that. And yet drugs do not kill nearly as many of us each year as guns do.

Don't hold your breath for a War on Guns.

True, unlike illicit drugs, most guns bought and sold in the U.S. are perfectly legal. Nothing -- not even a prior diagnosis of mental illness -- prevented Cho Seung-Hui from walking into a Roanoke gun shop and making a short, over-the counter-purchase: $500 for a Glock 19 handgun, $50 more for ammo. He bought additional ammo at a Wal-Mart. In fact, murder was the only illegal part of his hideous "to-do" list.

The owner of Roanoke Firearms called it "a very unremarkable sale." Not anymore.

We have a gun problem. How many more people have to die before we act reasonably to do something about it? Six in 10 Americans are reasonable -- they favor stricter federal gun laws. But only the 535 Americans who vote on Capitol Hill can enact those laws, and there the trend has been a slow, but steady, erosion over the past six years of even existing gun laws. Spearheading that erosion has been the National Rifle Association. Few lobbying groups in history have been as powerful and relentless as the NRA, and fewer are the political leaders who've had the will to oppose it.

The result? More guns, less regulation, more carnage. In response, many pro-gun groups would like to see more Americans armed with concealed weapons. That seems like a good idea, doesn't it? "Crossfire" can return to CNN with a whole new format.

Others say that the scourge of gun violence, particularly in our schools, represents a moral decay, and they blame parents, teachers and a permissive culture. All of which might be true. But if your kid is in danger of becoming a pyromaniac and burning the neighbor's house down, which do you take away first -- the pryo handbook or the matches?

Give credit -- the fact is, the NRA is astonishingly successful at its core mission: making sure there is no chance of taking the matches away. For 30 years they have employed a scorched-earth, zero-tolerance strategy when it comes to gun control -- never give in, never compromise, never back away from opposing even the most modest attempts at greater gun regulation or control.

And clearly, it's worked. No industrialized nation has a gun culture like America. Thirty-two states do not even require background checks. There are 5,000 gun shows a year in the U.S. Half of the sellers at them are non-licensed. At many of the shows, a person needn't produce anything other than cash in hand to buy a gun. Or dozens.

Ask Al Qaeda.

In chilling testimony to Congress in the wake of Sept. 11, former Attorney General
John Ashcroft revealed seized documents in which terrorists were urged to take advantage of America's lax gun laws to easily buy large volumes of deadly weapons.

Weapons like the Barrett .50-caliber rifle, which can pierce armor, hit a target more than 2,000 yards away, and could easily bring down a commercial airliner. Thanks to the gun lobby, the Barrett can still be purchased by anyone age 18 or older who passes a simple background check. Happy hunting.

The only document that matters to the pro-gun lobby is the Constitution's Second Amendment. Indeed, within hours of the Virginia Tech tragedy, the Gun Owners of America's Web site (www.gunowners.org) referenced the Amendment in just the second sentence of an expression of sympathy: "But not even senseless, brutal murder justifies taking away the God-given rights of the law-abiding." God forbid.

First, not even the most ardent gun control advocates suggest "taking away" any law-abiding person's guns. But the men -- not God -- who gave those "rights" lived in an age of bulky muskets and cumbersome flintlocks. In ratifying the "right to bear arms," the nation's founders could never have imagined the fearsomely lethal arms that killers like Cho Seung-Hui would one day bear. As columnist Richard Cohen observed recently in the Washington Post, "The Second Amendment comes from a different time, one when madmen could do limited damage."

No matter. No amount of damage seems too much to compel common sense from the gun lobby. Or courage from the politicians who either fear it or do its bidding.

Following the horror in Virginia, national political figures of both parties, including several 2008 presidential candidates, all expressed their understandable shock and sympathy. Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) (R-AZ) pointed out however, that the shootings would not alter his views on the Second Amendment. "Obviously," McCain told reporters, "We have to keep guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens."

Which, in case McCain missed it, is exactly what Cho Seung-Hui was. Right until he squeezed the trigger.

By contrast, a number of foreign leaders, while expressing equally heartfelt sympathy, also framed the larger, unmistakable picture, which so many leaders in this country choose to ignore. Australian Prime Minister John Howard spoke of the "U.S. gun culture." He pointed out that, after a mass gun killing in his own country several years ago, "We took action to limit the availability of guns."

In an editorial, the Times of London could only wonder in sorrow: "Why, we ask, do Americans continue to tolerate gun laws and a culture that seems to condemn thousands of innocents to death every year?"

Good question.

Meanwhile here at home, no such outrage from those who could actually change those laws.

You want action? Cue the condolences.

The depressingly familiar statements of sympathy, however sincere, wear thin after a while. They will sound very much the same after the next deadly school shooting. And the next. And the next ?

Talk is cheap. And for those who refuse to confront our gun problem, so it seems, is life.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/wcvb/20070420/lo_wcvb/12628813

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Art Eatman
April 20, 2007, 06:45 PM
Other than the mention of Sen. Gramm, this pore ol' hoss has been beaten to death eleventeen times.

Art

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