The Gun Zealots Said “Nothing Can Be Done”. But Las Vegas Might Prove Them Wrong.

by Pitt Griffin on October 5, 2017 · 0 comments

in Guns

When terrorists hijacked four planes on 9/11, America didn’t moan: “What can we do? Terrorists will always be able to hijack planes”. No, we reinforced cockpit doors and made people stand in lines for hours. The cockpit doors was a good idea. Interminable lines may have been an overreaction. So be it. We can work on that. Most importantly, there hasn’t been a single American plane hijacked since.

The Las Vegas Massacre.

But when it comes to guns, these problem-solving skills have fled. Massacre after massacre comes and goes. The inexorable grind of gun violence has killed 200,000 in America since 9/11. And that doesn’t include 350,000 suicides. But the Cassandras throw up their hands and whine that ‘death is the price of freedom’.

Americans love to tackle problems. Driving was once fraught with fire and passengers flying through plate glass windshields. We didn’t whine that nothing could be done. We made seatbelts mandatory – and safety glass standard. And fitted cars with all kinds of devices to reduce the rate and severity of accidents.

In 1980, MADD tackled drunk driving, and the drunk driving fatality rate declined 75%. Thousands who might have died – have lived.

We invented safety razors and childproof bottle caps. And vaccines and all manner of medicines. We regulated swimming pools and created building codes. And campaigned against cigarettes and lead.

But all this ‘can do’ spirit evaporated when it comes to guns. The naysayers said nothing could be done. There are too many guns out there. Besides, criminals will always get guns. The insane will find a way. So the only defense against “a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”.

The technology exists to make guns safer. But gun zealots make Luddites look like early adopters. The NRA leads the charge against common sense. Once an organization founded to promote responsible gun ownership, it has morphed into a mono-maniacal, single-issue attack dog. It would be as if the AMA abandoned science and supported the anti-vax movement – vociferously.

But maybe things have changed. Las Vegas has caused a movement on gun control that Sandy Hook never did. Republicans are talking about a law banning ‘bump-stocks’. Hardly a big deal in itself. But even five days ago a gun bill of any kind would have been unimaginable.

Even the NRA has recommended taking action: “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations” But don’t be fooled. It reeks of cynicism.  Regulation happens in backrooms. The NRA will do anything to avoid the exposure that comes from legislation.

Regardless, it still raises the question: Why did the Las Vegas massacre move the ball? For one, it destroyed the myth of a “good guy with a gun”. And two, it was on video – almost in real time.

 

 

 

 

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