Tiny Steps On Road To Gun Reform

Let’s not congratulate ourselves too much about having addressed gun violence. Yes, the General Assembly passed new gun control legislation. But the new law is merely a baby step on the road to meaningful reform. The fact is, we’re still armed to the teeth, and prone to violence. There will be more needless deaths.

The new law requires background checks for all firearms purchasers, and bans the sale of certain assault weapons in Connecticut. Large-capacity ammunition clips are now unlawful to purchase, but not to possess, if they are registered. Background checks will now be required to purchase long rifles. Lah-dee-dah.

Just why Connecticut lawmakers had to engage in Herculean struggles to produce this piddling reform is beyond me. Urban streets have been running with blood for years. Where’s the General Assembly been?

It sadly took the slaughter of elementary school children in a middle-class, and largely white, bedroom community to capture the imagination of lawmakers. Indeed, as part of the debate about gun reform, the names of the children slaughtered in Newtown were read aloud in the Senate chamber in an act of cheap and macabre theater.

It is unlikely there will ever be another slaughter like the Newtown shooting in years to come. But sometime this week another young man, most likely black, will be gunned down on the streets of a Connecticut city. Where is the memorial for these victims of gun violence?

Opponents of gun control don’t care about the urban body count. They fondle their guns with the determination of a child sucking a lollipop. Guns make people feel good. Take them away, or regulate them, and watch stupid signs sprout in protest, reading such things as "Dump Dan the Dictator," as one such sign read in Hartford last week. Governor Dannell Malloy, a dictator? C’mon, the guy’s a limp tool.

It is difficult to gather statistics on gun violence in the United States because the gun lobby wants to make sure the truth about guns remains obscure. But the Centers for Disease Control tries to compile statistics. In 2005, for example, there were 30,694 gun-related deaths in the United States, according to the CDC; 187 of those deaths were in Connecticut. That’s one person shot dead every two days in the Nutmeg state alone.

Hospital statistics in Connecticut for 2005 reflect that 37 percent of all gun-related injuries reported in the state’s hospitals were inflicted upon African-Americans, a group that composed only nine percent of the state’s population. The firearms homicide rate for black male victims is eight times the rate of white male victims; 3.5 times higher than that for Latino male victims. It’s small wonder that in the state’s larger cities one hears words like genocide and holocaust used to describe inner-city gun violence.

I will start believing we are serious about gun violence when I see corporations and gun owners start to bleed cash for their irresponsibility. Why not a national registry of every firearm in the United States? Require the manufacturer to record each serial number. Require a registry of every sale. When one of these guns turns up at a crime scene, fine the manufacturer $100,000, and fine each person who possessed the gun $10,000.

Has the serial number been effaced? Then a general fine on $50,000 per every manufacturer of guns in the United States. Watch how quickly guns start disappearing on inner city streets when manufacturers and purchasers start paying for the mayhem. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, dealers in the United States "lost" at average of 82 guns a day in 2007. Lose a gun? Pay a fine.

And don’t dare call me a friend of tyrants because of my disgust over the manner in which we fail to address gun violence in this country. All the chest-thumping about tyranny by the Second Amendment crowd is white noise. We don’t use guns against tyrants in this country. We use them to kill one another. Guns are corporate lollipops used to soothe the nerves of a frazzled people. We’ve more guns per capita than any nation on earth. Are we free enough yet?

Guns are a public health problem. They aren’t glamorous. They don’t keep us free. They are killing machines more often than not used to kill in the inner city. We’ve not yet begun to have a serious discussion about gun violence in this country.


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