Magazine article The Christian Century

Gun Fantasies

Magazine article The Christian Century

Gun Fantasies

Article excerpt

Jared Loughner, the young man charged in the shooting rampage that wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was considered so threatening and mentally unstable that his community college in Tucson banned him from campus. But this judgment did not in any way impede Loughner's ability to buy a Glock semiautomatic pistol and several rounds of ammunition to go with it.

The Tucson shootings should prompt calls for more thorough background checks on gun buyers. It should spark calls for reinstating the ban on military-style assault weapons, which Congress allowed to expire in 2004. It should prompt Congress to limit the purchase of semiautomatic weapons--which can rip off dozens of shots within seconds--to police departments and the military. (What game hunter or target shooter needs to own an attack weapon?)

But when it comes to guns, Americans do not live in a rational universe. In the face of yet another gun massacre, Americans seem to think that there is only one answer: more guns.

In Arizona and across the nation, the defense of gun ownership no longer has much to do with the old idea of protecting the rights of hunters and hobbyists. Defenders of gun fights now portray gun ownership as necessary for self-defense and for deterring shooters like Loughner.

Within days of the shooting, the Arizona Citizens Defense League prepared legislation that would require the state to offer firearms training to politicians and their staff. The philosophy behind that bill was summed up by Arizona state legislator Jack Harper: "When everyone is carrying a firearm, nobody is going to be a victim. …

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