Opinion

Stop the gun madness


Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:19 p.m.

At his comforting speech in Tucson, Ariz., President Obama briefly mentioned the "merits of gun safety laws." I wish he had used the occasion to press for tougher ones because America's love affair with weapons is a huge problem.

With 90 guns for every 100 people, the United States is by far the most heavily armed nation in the world. Yemen, in second place, has 61 guns per 100 people.

Not surprisingly, nearly 100,000 people are injured or killed with a gun in this country each year. America's homicide rate is 6.9 times higher than rates in 22 other industrialized nations combined, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. More than 1 million people have been killed with guns in the United States since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated in 1968, according to the Children's Defense Fund.

We need to stop this madness.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y. — whose husband was murdered in a 1993 shooting rampage — and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., are sponsoring legislation to restore the ban on high-capacity gun magazines that allow for mass slaughter, reducing the clips to 10 rounds. And Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has proposed legislation that would make it illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a government official.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., a veteran lawmaker, recently expressed his support for a ban on assault weapons. And Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., an avid gun supporter, said he would work to make sure that the mentally ill are not allowed to buy and use a gun.

So far, House Speaker John Boehner has rejected gun control legislation, and the National Rifle Association consistently lobbies against gun restrictions.

"I think there are a bunch up wimps up there," gun control advocate Sarah Brady said of legislators who are unwilling to take on the gun lobby. (She is the wife of James Brady, President Reagan's press secretary who was wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan.)

Perversely, some gun rights supporters suggest that there should be more guns, not fewer, in schools, in public places, in houses of worship. This approach is reckless and irresponsible, and will only lead to more innocent lives lost.

We've lost more than enough already

David A. Love is executive editor of BlackCommentator.com. He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine.

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