As part of our new series, “Boomer Opinion,” BoomerCafé co-founder Greg Dobbs — a longtime op-ed columnist for The Denver Post— opines about the latest controversial topic on people’s minds: guns. (And if you agree with Greg’s commentary, feel free to put this headline link on your social media accounts and send it around.)
It’s madness. Total madness. No one has to spotlight the madness in the massacre in Las Vegas. But there’s also madness in the reactions of politicians who already were telling us last week, when the blood had hardly even dried, that when it comes to reasonable proposals to regulate rapid-fire rifles, there’s nothing to talk about.
Sure, some senior members of Congress and even, shocker of shockers, the NRA have conceded that maybe a ban on “bump stocks” — the devices that make assault rifles even deadlier — is prudent. Hallelujah. This means even longtime arms acolytes are asking, might fewer have died in Vegas if the killer could release, say, only two rounds per second instead of nine?
How could anyone argue that this is not worth considering?
But some still will, and that’s what even a modest modification of gun regulation will be up against. Like the hollow arguments we heard the day after Vegas: first, we shouldn’t politicize bloodbaths. Second, we can’t prevent bloodbaths. The same arguments we also heard the day after Orlando, the day after San Bernardino, the day after Aurora, the day after Virginia Tech, the day after Newtown.
Newsflash: no one’s contending that we can prevent bloodbaths. Evil is beyond regulation or legislation. What some do contend, though, is that we can reduce the breadth of the bloodbaths. And such easy access to the weapons that trigger them.
The poster boys for hollow thinking this time were the two United States senators from Louisiana. Bill Cassidy assured us, “There’s not going to be a single law which stops somebody determined to do something bad.” The flaw in that? True, nothing will stop everybody. But somebody? Yes, a single law could do that.
Cassidy’s colleague John Kennedy then rode shotgun: “It’s about ultimately getting rid of the 2nd Amendment.” That’s the “camel’s nose under the tent” argument. Open the door just a bit, you’ll never again get it shut. But at risk of offending the animal kingdom, the “camel’s nose” argument is hogwash. Open the door only as wide as need be. Close it when the need has been met. The need, right now, is to make it harder to kill almost 60 people. From a hotel room in Las Vegas or anywhere else.
We won’t win any arguments with statistics. Gun control advocates cite constituencies where strong laws have curtailed gun violence. California proves their point. But opponents cite communities where where despite strong laws, the violence only gets worse. Chicago, or Washington DC, prove theirs. In Colorado, where I live, gun control laws fall somewhere near the middle of the spectrum. So do our statistics for gun violence.
So instead, ask this: if more guns, and more lethal guns, really made us safer, which is the fantasy forwarded by guns rights groups, we would be the safest nation on earth. We’re not. The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we have almost a third of its mass murders. And semi-automatic assault rifles are the mass murderers’ weapons of choice.
Granted, the right to bear arms is settled law in our country. So be it. But it’s at loggerheads with another cherished right from our Declaration of Independence: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Which means, today, the right not to be mowed down by an armed maniac.
Of course the genie’s out of the bottle — the guns are out there, everywhere, and it’s too late to get them back. But how can anyone argue that keeping the deadliest devices out of the marketplace won’t mitigate the madness?
Gun owners plead, “Hey, I hunt,” or “My sport is target practice,” or “I have a right to protect my home.” Valid arguments for sure. But not against limits on some level. Hunting is fine, but you don’t need to do it with a tank, so we can’t own tanks. Target practice is fine, but you don’t need to lob a grenade at a target, so we can’t own grenades. And protecting your home is fine, but do you need an AR-15 with a bump stock to do it?