John Colson: Raise the gun-buying age limit NOW!
More than 1,500 people have died in more than 270 mass shootings in this country since 2009, according to the Everytown for Gun Safety group, as cited in a New York Times story on May 29.
As a nation, we’ve been watching that tragic toll mount at an ever-increasing rate, kind of in the same way we’ve watched the rise in the number of deaths from the coronavirus, which has topped 1 million in the U.S.
Just this week, we learned that we are back at 400 COVID-19 deaths per day in this country, to give a bit of context to the numbers game.
But, of course, having a million people die from a deadly virus is far different from the grim toll of people killed by guns, which currently stands at more than 110 per day, or more than 40,000 per year.
That’s because the huge number of deaths by gun violence is, or would be in a more rational society, much more preventable.
The latest horror story, as we all know too well, was at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where last week 21 people were gunned down by an 18-year-old loner, the 27th time a school shooting has occurred in this year alone.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, in general this nation has been host to 212 mass shootings (not solely at schools) in 2022 (mass shootings are defined as incidents where four or more people are shot or killed).
Thanks to the data analyses experts at Education Week, we also recently learned that there have been 119 school shootings since 2018, when the organization began tracking such things.
A May 25 article from National Public Radio contains a link to the Gun Violence Archive, which offers details about all the deaths represented by the archive’s tally.
Why go over all these horrific numbers?
Well, to my way of thinking, this shameful recitation has one very telling justification, which is the plain fact that we could slow, and perhaps stop, this awful carnage by enacting stricter gun control laws.
But we seem unable to do that, largely due to the obstructionist efforts of the national Republican Party (which, appropriately enough, opinion writer Michelle Cottle, a member of the NYT Editorial Board, has nicknamed the “American Carnage Party” for its historic resistance to any kind of gun control measures).
And the American Carnage Party, of course, has for so long taken its cues from the National Rifle Association that it sometimes seems as if the two organizations have engaged in some sort of corporate merger.
The continuing evidence of this undeclared merger was in full flower at last weekend’s NRA conference only a couple of hundred miles from Uvalde in in Houston, where speaker after speaker paid out hollow condolences and prayers for the Uvalde dead and their mourning relatives, then reverted to their typical insistence that gun rights are more important that the lives of kids and teachers.
As our governing elite tiptoes, once again, around the gun-control debate, once again there is no sign of our leadership actually doing anything about the violence.
Given that pathetic reality, we need to ask ourselves, as a nation: At what point will we finally realize that all this death is a human problem looking for a solution, and that this solution has taken on the attributes of a moral imperative?
Right now, as the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof declared recently, “Let’s just acknowledge that what we’re doing isn’t working.”
Which is one way of saying it’s time we take a different approach.
As I perused the news and opinion columns about this topic, I noted with interest that more than one writer concluded that the paltry nature of “gun control” ideas being bandied about in the wake of the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde (which happened only 10 days apart from each other) would likely not have made any difference.
Timidly stiffened background checks would not have uncovered any criminal record in the Uvalde shooter’s history, because he had none.
He also had not been tagged as mentally deficient or deranged, so laws aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally challenged would not have saved the Uvalde 21.
In both Buffalo and Uvalde, the shooters were 18 years old, and apparently had legally obtained the guns they used to murder so many people, and that is the best starting point for any changes to our gun laws. Raise the age limit for purchasing assault weapons, at least, from 18 to 21, since gun buyers might be safely assumed to have gained a little maturity in that three-year span.
That alone might save hundreds, and perhaps more lives each year, and it would do nothing to undermine the ability of hunters, target shooters and others from buying the guns they crave.