Monday, June 20, 2016

And Here We Go Again: The US Senate Rejects A Series of Gun Control Measures.

This was expected, of course.  If the 2012 massacre of elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut, got nothing real done in the US Congress about gun control a massacre of adults certainly won't.

Even many massacres of many people don't seem to get access to guns controlled.  This applies to even assault-type, militaristic weapons with the only apparent advantage that they are pretty efficient at killing many people quickly.  And never mind that they have been the guns of choice in fourteen public mass shootings during the last ten years, half of those since last June.

I despair.  Of course I do, and so do many, many Americans.  But the appeal of guns appears tremendous, the political power of the National Rifle Association (NRA) is huge (huge! I tell you), and no amount of horror seems to make any dent in any of that.  Not vast numbers of people dying in mass shootings, not little children dying because careless availability of loaded guns, nothing makes a dent.

Still, there is something obscene about the re-branding of semi-automatic guns as "modern sporting rifles."  What is sporting about them?  Or are we to assume that hunting humans is now an acceptable form of sports?

I have nothing useful or cheering to say about any of this, and my apologies for that.  But I find it odd that the gun-rights people are so utterly absolutists, so very bent on their need to have open access to truly frightening weapons only good for efficient people-killing, and so very libertarian, given the enormous costs to the society their attitude ultimately causes.

It's as if someone demanded that drivers' licenses should not be required for cars, that any amount of alcohol or drugs is just fine for those driving a car, that people should be allowed to choose whether they drive on the left or on the right and should be allowed to change that choice from day to day or hour to hour, without informing anyone else about that choice, that cars could be routinely left in neutral and running while parked, and when the inevitable deaths of many on the roads would happen, an organization would be created to defend the absolute rights of Drivers Without Restrictions.  And without any insurance for the mayhem they caused.

Given the recalcitrance of the NRA types and the politicians they have acquired, perhaps different approaches are needed.

Remember those enormous social costs the sloppy access to guns causes in the US?  Let's make people who cause them internalize them, the same way obligatory car insurance internalizes some of the costs of poor driving.  Mandatory liability insurance for gun owners is not my idea or a particularly new idea.  But it's a baby step in the right direction, and it could be tailored to the gun one buys so that the buyers of "modern sporting rifles" would face a much heavier insurance bill than the guys of more modest killing weapons.

And what about creating competition for the NRA itself?  A good but apolitical gun owners' organization, one which offers the services gun owners need, might be able to reduce the exorbitant political power of the NRA by pulling away the more reasonable gun people.

Add your own suggestions for things which might work, given the current gridlocked political climate.