The cover of this week's Economist (above) says it well. This is America's image today: a culture wherein the solution to any problem from an imagined insult to a paranoid fear of "big government" is resolved at gun point.
Blame movies and TV crime shows where the heroes and bad guys all tote handguns as if they were extensions of their anatomy. Blame the street-corner gang, where packing a weapon is the desperate assurance of a teen-ager's masculinity. Blame the merchants, like the owner of the online firearms store who sold the weapons to both the student who massacred 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech and the angry grad student who killed five and wounded 18 in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University before shooting himself. Blame the misguided gun enthusiasts who preach that we should tote pistols to work, restaurants, ball games, class and even church.
Above all blame the pusillanimous politicians who have sold their souls to the National Rifle Association at the cost of 100,000 shootings in the United States every year. Would that President Obama now muster his courage and rhetoric to teach the American people why the federal government must serve the people by disarming them.
The Boston blogger Jerome Grossman has proposed an answer: Uniform regulations in all states; required physical, medical, and written tests and training in firearms. All guns must be kept in the local police station and signed out for use. Therefore the right to own a gun for a reason—police, hunter, target shooter—would be protected; but guns would not be available to shoot one's spouse or one's self, to settle an argument, or for children to play with.
An inconvenience? Yes. But how much do we really value the life of a Congresswoman, a judge, or a nine-year-old girl?
Raymond A. Schroth, S.J.