Saturday, November 07, 2009

Another Mass Murder? Oh, Help America to Its Fainting Couch

The spectacle never ends here in the land of the free-flowing ammo. In fact, 2009 is shaping up to be one of the prime years for connoisseurs of mass murder. Somehow, in one of the states with a much ballyhooed concealed carry law, this fool managed to cut a swath through his ex-employer's workplace and no one shot back. Later, I watched Charlie Gibson cover the story of the Orlando shooting, and then turn his pained eyes on Jake Tapper to ask whether there was any solution for these kinds of tragedies. Of course, not once did the possibility of keeping control of our weaponry come up. That was so far beyond the pale that no one could even bring himself to raise the question, despite the fact that Florida, the 9th deadliest state in the Union in 2008, has some of the most risible gun "laws" on the books, including allowing employees to bring loaded guns to work, so long as they keep them outside in their locked cars. Here are a few more examples of Florida's daffiness:
1) Legal to use deadly force as a first resort in public (excellent for taking out a harmless passerby in the street who looks at you wrong).

2) Criminal background checks are only required if the buyer goes to a federally-licensed gun store - no other sales (gun shows, swap meets, want ads) are subject to the background check. (This is actually almost beside the point, because as history has shown ad nauseum, many assaults are committed with guns by people with no criminal records).

3) No restriction on the sale of Saturday night specials, "junk" handguns, or snub-nosed handguns that are easily concealed.

4) No state requirement that gun owners register their firearms.

5) Police are forbidden from keeping any record of gun sales. Police must destroy records on gun sales within 48 hours and are prohibited from maintaining gun sale records that could be used for gun tracing and criminal investigations. The state has no way of knowing whether people who bought guns in the past have become criminals and are no longer allowed to possess firearms.

6) No restriction on the sale or possession of large capacity ammunition magazines that can fire 30, 50 or even 75 rounds without reloading (because we know that in America, bigger is better, including death counts).

7) Police chiefs and state sheriffs are required to give concealed carry permits to anyone who can buy a handgun, allowing them to carry loaded, concealed handguns in public.
Now, you may say, it's not as bad as it could be. Look at Utah, where local police needn't be informed of a concealed carry, and loaded guns are allowed in state facilities, churches, and colleges. Or Oklahoma, that requires no record-keeping on guns whatsoever and allows them to be taken, loaded, onto a private employer's property. Or Vermont, which places virtually no restriction on carrying a loaded handgun.

It seems that there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that could possibly shock Americans into placing some commonsense restrictions--things on a par with restrictions on driving and alcohol--on the very thing that causes these atrocities, atrocities they can be relied on to weep fat, heavily-publicized crocodile tears over each time a new massacre erupts. Oh, we wring our hands and run to the local blood drive (because it doesn't cost us anything to give blood, but don't ask us to pay taxes to really help others), and we wail about how crazy the killer must be, oh, how evil, and why does this keep happening to us, and how can God let this happen? Well, God helps those who help themselves, sweetheart, and we aren't doing one damned thing to try to stop it from happening again. If you think that sweeping up after the fact is some kind of preventative, you must be blind to the lessons you've been taught from years of living with human beings. This is what we do: we get pissed off; we get stressed out; we get shat upon and taken to the cleaners and conned by big American companies taking our tax money, and we reach our limits. And the difference between an incident that may end in the stabbing of an individual, and the mass killing and maiming of many, lies in whether that stressed-out maniac can get his hands on a weapon of mass destruction, or only a kitchen knife. Every day someone without a criminal record shoots someone else, and the only thing that made him a criminal was being able to get hold of that gun. Human beings will get pissed off. But what they do with that anger too often becomes a matter of opportunity bestowed on them by the rankest weapons non-regulations in the civilized world, hand-crafted by the country's biggest numbnuts and first-rate cowards.

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