Year after year, nearly 100,000 Americans are shot or killed in
gun-related incidents. That is the equivalent of a war one waged in
US communities and homes on a daily basis.
But we only take notice of the grim toll inflicted by widespread
and largely unregulated gun ownership when the violence is
sufficiently spectacular to attract major media coverage. So when 20
young children and six adults are murdered in a shooting spree in a
grade school in a quiet Connecticut community, as well as the gunman
killing himself and his mother, the entire nation is appalled by
such random and massive violence.
However, on a typical day in the United States, 33 people are
murdered by guns, and another 50 die in gun-related suicides.
And there are three specific groups of people who are the most
common victims of gun violence: the wives and girlfriends of men who
own guns, young inner-city African-American men, and people who
suffer from clinical depression though random mass shootings remind
us that others, too, are vulnerable.
It is a sad commentary that the spectacular series of shootings
in classrooms, malls, and theaters rather than the more widely
destructive everyday incidents could be the galvanizing force that
finally moves America to sensible gun regulation. But regulate
As a nation, the US has failed to do anything meaningful to stop
this senseless bloodshed. The public has been hoodwinked by an
ideological campaign based on misleading arguments, and politicians
have been cowed by the gun lobby. But as New York Mayor Michael
Bloomberg rightly commented after the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, the
power of the National Rifle Association is vastly overrated.
For decades the gun lobby has loudly proclaimed that the Second
Amendment protects an individual right to gun ownership. Only
recently has the Supreme Court actually endorsed this
interpretation, and the court held only that the federal and local
governments cannot impose absolute bans on gun ownership,
emphatically emphasizing that the Constitution does not prohibit
strict regulation of gun ownership.
Regulation of guns is in fact almost entirely a political issue,
for which a wide range of politicians has dodged responsibility by
hiding behind a largely fictional cover of constitutionality that
supposedly disallowed regulation.
Another common argument is that hunting and sport shooting is a
sacred way of life for gun owners. But isnt hobby a more accurate
My own preferred hobby is driving my Volvo 850 at 140 miles per
hour. Law-abiding and responsible gun owners protest that their
legal enjoyment of guns should not be constrained by restrictive gun
legislation. I am a responsible and law-abiding driver and the speed
limits on Americas highways deprive me of the pleasure of high
velocity auto travel, which I can enjoy on the Autostrada when I
visit Italy but not when I am on US Interstate 95. Yet I respect the
right of my fellow citizens to impose a speed limit in the interests
of public safety.
One other oft-heard argument in support of unrestricted gun
ownership is that gun owners can stand against internal tyranny or
external military threat. …