It took until the middle of the week after the Aurora massacre, but the issue of gun violence finally got some play from the two candidates for president. President Obama, speaking to the National Urban League at least made some sense. He's right when he says AK47s and AR15s are weapons for soldiers, not for people on the street. When he says our gun laws ought to at least keep criminals and those with mental issues from buying weapons, he's talking common sense.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, talks nonsense. When asked by NBC's Brian Williams about the law he signed banning assault weapons in Massachusetts, he barely acknowledged its existence. After meandering for about 30 seconds, he said there's no need for new federal legislation restricting guns in any form or fashion. One assumes that means a federal assault weapons ban (like we used to have) is out of the question, even though that's just what he had in Massachusetts. As he did with the Affordable Care Act, Mitt Romney runs against his own record.
In the meantime, America bleeds.
Two incidents in the aftermath of Aurora speak volumes about the nature of gun ownership and procurement in this country. First, people in Colorado started buying many more guns after the killings. As if being strapped in a darkened movie theater would have allowed them to pick out the gunman and blow him to Kingdom Come. The second is this. A NY Daily News reporter went out to Colorado, and bought an assault rifle from the same store the accused gunman used, and only had to wait 45 minutes before he walked out of the store with it. One can surmise he could still but plenty of ammo right off the Internet, as James Holmes did.
And here in New York, the shots just keep on coming. It's been less than a week since little Lloyd Morgan, age 4, was killed in a shootout at a charity basketball game in the Bronx. The game was organized to remember a young lady who was stabbed to death. And now, the fabled Rucker Playground has been stained by a shootout as well. Five people went to the hospital, but thankfully no one was killed.
Folks who travel outside the US, particularly to Europe, find people who are astonished at our love affair with the gun. I've had more than a half dozen people in London alone ask me to explain it. It's as if some unexplained malady has made us believe that guns are part of American Exceptionalism, that we aren't real Americans unless we lock and load.
I for one won't buy it. But I also think it won't change in my lifetime.
Am I wrong?