The latest mass shooting in Connecticut follows in a long and despair-provoking line of murder-sprees that stretches from Columbine to Virginia Tech to the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, with many nightmarish detours along the way.
As we begin to process this latest event, I think it’s fair to say that it’s not human nature that has changed.
People in America have been committing despicable atrocities from the moment Europeans touched toe on Plymouth Rock.
What’s different is efficiency.
When the Founding Fathers were talking about the 2nd Amendment — stipulating that the the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed — a highly trained soldier could fire three rounds per minute.
These days, it’s an entirely different world.
Average citizens are able to purchase firearms that put many of the combat weapons used by the Greatest Generation during World War II to shame. These guns fire faster, with larger magazines and more destructive rounds.
The translation is simple: Scientists and engineers have produced new generations of extraordinarily well designed machines, which have the single function of killing other people, with fluid ease and simplicity.
Under our Constitutional rules, created during the age of the Minuteman, those machines are cheap and widely available.
Defenders of the status quo stand on what they view as principle.
Whatever the dangers and moral quandaries posed by these ubiquity of machines designed solely for the purpose of killing other humans, they view unfettered gun ownership as a fundamental American right.
I’m guessing that this principle will come under increasingly ferocious scrutiny, as the death toll mounts.
If nothing else, it seems reasonable to discuss whether the firearms sold in the US might not be designed intentionally to be less efficient. Why not ban large clips for everyone except law enforcement?
Why not design clip and cartridge mechanisms so that they require a significant amount of time to reload?
It’s hard to imagine that a person defending their home in good faith needs more than five or six bullets, or the ability to discharge hundreds of rounds per minute.
The bottom line is that we regulate dangerous machines in many ways in our country, requiring that they be designed for public safety as well as efficiency and utility.
Those modern rules prevent many of the deadly horrors that once plagued our society, from factory fires in locked work areas to mass poisonings caused by contaminated food.
Regulating firearms in a coherent and logical way might accomplish much the same. In the wake of the latest carnage, it’s time to have that conversation.
Tags: gun control