We face a mass shooting epidemic. And the cure is evasive.
The recent burst of mass killing is upsetting. But it has been relegated to beneath-the-fold status in most newspapers. That’s not because the stories aren’t worthy of blaring headlines. Rather, there have been other, significant things going on that have captured our attention. From the landmark Derek Chauvin trial, its verdict and its implications, to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine developments, there has been little room to highlight other things. But the media should be able to carve out just a little more prominent space to report and discuss our country’s continuing gun plague.
According to reports, there have been at least 45 mass shootings in the U.S. since March 16, and at least 157 mass shootings so far in 2021. Those numbers are frightening. Yet, we don’t hear much about the enormity of the problem in our daily news and opinion pieces. In fact, the rash of killings is nothing new. And, regretfully, when it comes to guns, killings keep happening and nothing changes.
After each mass shooting, politicians — Republicans and Democrats alike — condemn the violence. Vigils are held, tears are shed and friends, relatives and those injured speak out about the need for gun control, about the evils of assault weapons and against the NRA. Then something else happens, and our attention is diverted. We lose focus and forget about the killing — until it happens again.
Something needs to change. Our leaders need to lead the change. In the process, we suggest that they take a hard look at the Second Amendment and consider what the framers intended in their much quoted statement: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
What does that mean? Does the need for a well-regulated militia even apply today? When the Constitution was ratified at the end of the 18th century, our Founding Fathers believed local militias, not an army, would protect the citizenry. Today, a free-standing army has replaced militias. A well-regulated militia is no longer necessary to the security of a free state. As such, is there really good reason not to limit the right to bear arms?
And does the right to bear arms include all 118 different assault rifles listed on militaryfactory.com? Could the framers have possibly anticipated that their “right to bear arms” would justify the use of AR-15s and similar assault rifles to kill thousands of people in repeated mass shootings?
And then there is the moral consideration. Even if someone has the right to own a gun, that right cannot infringe another person’s right to live. So ownership needs to be regulated — far more so than the more symbolic rules largely in place today.
We join those who have had enough. The nation’s gun problem needs to be addressed, even if no one seems to be paying attention.