Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Sadly, Yet Another Opportunity

Responding to the shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin which left six people dead at a Sikh temple, President Obama noted "we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family."

It was a fine statement, and superior to the President's words at a bill-signing ceremony on Monday, when the President remarked "These kinds of terrible and tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not do some soul-searching and examine additional ways that we can prevent."

The problem is not our soul.    Ask the average American how many such incidents have occurred in the past 30 years, and he or she will reply a dozen, give or take a few.  President Obama, cognizant of this understandable ignorance, refers to "too much regularity" as a sterile means of avoiding specificity  The conscience would be shocked of learning there have been (according to Mother Jones) at least 58 mass murders carried out by firearm in the Land of Exceptionalism, the U.S.A., in the past 30 years.   Decent folks must be allowed to sleep easy o'nights, mustn't they?

Farcically, pro-gun people will continue to claim no further gun control is needed, that existing laws merely must be enforced.   Yet, as a chart from Mother Jones indicates, in 46 of the 58 crimes the firearm was obtained legally.

While President Obama and Mitt Romney remain intimidated by the pro-crime National Rifle Association, New York Mayor Bloomberg stated what most Americans believe, but few politicians will admit:   "The fact that criminals, terrorists and other mentally ill people have access to guns is a national crisis."   But Obama (and Bloomberg) can put into action the Mayor's goal, as Eliot Spitzer explains:

The Defense Department and the city of New York are among the largest purchasers of guns. If the president and the mayor truly believe that semi-automatic weapons should not be available to private purchasers, and that magazines with more than 10 bullets should not be sold over the counter, they should simply say that, from now on, the federal government and the city of New York, as a matter of public safety, will not buy any weapons or ammunition from companies that do not agree to pull semi-automatics from their stock and refuse to produce magazines with more than 10 rounds other than for sale to the government. President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg should announce that semiautomatic handguns with high-capacity magazines—the kind used in Oak Creek; Aurora, Colo.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Virginia Tech—can no longer be sold to private citizens by any company that wants to do business with the federal government and the city of New York.

The major gun manufacturers will agree to the limits imposed by their major customers.

Use the power of the government as a purchaser, as a consumer, to get the companies marketing these products to change their behavior. And do it now. Stop blaming the legislature and act, immediately.

It is a modest proposal, one which will save lives, and one which Barack Obama will ignore.

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