Another horrific shooting. This time in a small town at a community college in Oregon. Precious lives destroyed, families crushed. President Obama’s visceral reaction to the shootings is a reminder that if we ever become numb to such atrocities we lose some of our humanity. But responding emotionally may be all we can do.
This country has a gun culture within it. It’s a judgment call on whether we also have an exceedingly violent culture. But what we do know is that there is violence here. And we know there are literally hundreds of millions of guns. Sooner or later, there is going to be violence perpetrated by someone who has guns. And the outcome is never good. But there is no gun control law that could ever eradicate this. If someone has hate in his heart and has a gun….
But I wonder why a minority of Americans have such sway over everyone else. Yes, many Americans own guns. But the percentage of those doing so is likely about one in four. About half of these, according to Pew Research, own a gun for protection and about a third for hunting. Almost no one advocating stricter gun control laws wants to take away rifles from hunters. And so the massive disconnect in this country is between those who see guns as a ticking time bomb creating more violence in society and those who view owning a gun as their constitutional right. All that can be said with some certainty is that this right to own a gun is an enabler of producing collateral damage. i.e. deaths
In earlier days, when there wasn’t the norm of mass killings in this country, the NRA and other gun proponents had a somewhat apathetic public. Out of sight, out of mind. Gun violence happened somewhere else. Gun advocates, though a minority, have always been much more committed to their cause and have been successful in creating the gun culture in which we live. But it’s possible this could change…that the number of horrific shootings will hit critical mass in bringing unspeakable violence to the small towns, the affluent suburbs, little children in school, even people in church. And then the three Americans who don’t own guns will ask why their world should be rocked because of the one American who does. Good question?
Postscript: Column by Charles Krauthammer