In Arizona, there’s a concern about graffiti. So there’s a proposal to force stores to lock up spray paint. It’s similar to the way that cold remedies that contain ingredients that could be used to make methamphetamine have been moved off drug-store shelves in Kansas and elsewhere.
Although the seriousness of those situations are dwarfed by the mass murders that are foremost in the nation’s consciousness, the responses are a metaphor for the gun control measures being discussed in Washington: Do something that appears appropriate but that actually may not address the underlying problem.
President Obama’s $500 million plan announced Wednesday to stem gun violence incorporates calls for congressional action to ban certain weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and to require background checks for all gun purchasers, plus an extensive list of executive orders that includes giving schools and communities new grants and the flexibility to use existing federal grants for school safety, new firearm-control programs and some mental health measures.
Nothing appears to have been forthcoming from Vice President Biden’s task force concerning the entertainment industry. Do we nurture violence and evil with our movies, games and music? If so, why not try to face up to that situation?
The Centers for Disease Control have been directed to research gun violence. Perhaps this could lead to a study of any mental or emotional commonalities among the killers in these senseless attacks. What characteristics do they share that might help explain the inexplicable? What pushes them over the edge? Is it, as at least one source has suggested, certain medications used to treat depression that triggered the horrible shootings? Or is it simply the lack of effective treatment, or a means to report and address peculiar behavior before it turns violent?
The country also needs to ask whether a one-size-fits-all gun-control solution is rational for a nation as diverse as ours, with many areas where firearms are used for hunting and treasured as family possessions and other locales where firearms are primarily tools of violence or self-defense.
The blogosphere runneth over with opinions and “facts” on all sides of this complex issue. There are stories, some true, about how guns in the hands of armed civilians recently have prevented carnage. The president did not acknowledge those. Each day’s news also brings reports about people who have been wounded or killed by firearms. The president said 900 have died in the month following the Newtown, Conn., slayings. How many were killed in car accidents and other daily activities?
Are we seeking common ground? Unfortunately, neither the president nor Congress seems intent upon getting at any possible underlying issues with specific legislation that might unify lawmakers and prevent future tragedies.
Instead, what seems in store is more of the endless divisive and partisan quarreling over tangential matters that fail to control the violence they purport to halt.
Lock up the spray paint!