The old saying, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” is absolutely true. The problem is we do nothing about them – because we are them. We, the American people, are why nothing gets done to stop horrific events like the school shooting that occurred in Texas on Tuesday.
We have the power to act – if only we would. Instead, we have a country that diverts scarce school resources to active-shooter drills rather than slightly inconvenience readers of American Rifleman.
I say this as someone who knows a bit about guns. I grew up around guns. And I have been a gun owner for longer than I care to admit.
I first fired a machine gun when I was 16 or 17. (That is a long story, one that includes a Border Patrol officer uttering the memorable phrase “armed invasion of Mexico.” Maybe someday.)
Other adventures from that era include a tour of ArmaLite’s factory – ArmaLite is the AR in AR-15 – where I also saw a collection of automatic weapons from around the world. And I was once a guest at the home of Eugene Stoner, the creator of the AR-15/M-16 line of weapons.
So, no, my first response to yet another mass shooting is not to try to take away people’s guns. In this country that is neither possible nor desirable.
But the Second Amendment says nothing to the effect of everybody, everything and everywhere. Reasonable limits are allowed.
After each of these shootings, the debate quickly devolves into a defense of Americans’ gun rights, as if they are threatened. But nobody is talking about taking our guns.
Moreover, protecting our kids does not have to be about guns. The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., took what he called an epidemiological approach to shootings that focused on changing the results more than the means.
In 1993, he observed that New York City had a two-century supply of guns, but only a three-year supply of ammunition. As he put it: “Guns don’t kill people. Bullets kill people.”
And while there are countless varieties of ammunition, probably only a few account for the majority of gun deaths. Why not require some extra step to buy those?
There might also be some way to track ammunition. Add to that better tracking of guns, and holding both buyers and sellers responsible for what happens to them. That could be done so as to not hamper responsible gun owners.
Screening for and treating mental illness may be even more critical, with a particular focus on males ages 13 to 30. Having once been one of them, I can attest to how dangerous they are. (See reference to Mexico.)
The point is not to let our national sorrow degenerate into the same tired arguments about guns. Yes, I am a gun owner, but I am a grandfather, too. And I know which of those matters.
Our inability to do anything to end mass killings is shameful. As President Biden said, “Where in God’s name is our backbone?”