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A sign, flag and flowers are seen outside a home honoring victims who died in the December 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut December 19, 2012. Six more victims of the Newtown school shooting will be honored at funerals and remembrances on Wednesday, including the school principal who was killed with 20 of her students and five other staff members at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.   REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW EDUCATION)
attribution: Reuters
It's about guns.
On January 29, 1979, a 16-year-old San Diego girl took the gun that her father had just given her for Christmas and opened fire at the school across from which she lived. The school's principal was killed, while trying to protect the children. Another adult was killed while trying to rescue the principal. Eight students and a police officer were wounded before the girl was taken into custody. When asked why she had done it, she said, "I don't like Mondays; this livens up the day." Bob Geldof of the first wave New Wave band The Boomtown Rats was inspired to write the song "I Don't Like Mondays," which spent a month atop the British charts that summer, and for years San Diego radio stations understandably refused to play it. Its opening lines:
And the silicon chip inside her head
Got switched to overload
No one knows what causes someone to take a gun and start shooting people. No one ever will. Every time there is a mass shooting, news reporters dig into the personal history of the murderer, as if something in the biography will provide a clue. It never does. Mental illness, abusive childhoods, collapsed relationships, setbacks at school or work, and any number of other factors often are found, but none provides the answer. Hundreds of millions of people have suffered from mental illness, abusive childhoods, collapsed relationships, setbacks at school or work, and every other form of stress or trauma without deciding to kill people. Why do these individuals become killers? Bob Geldof's answer remains the best explanation, because there is no explanation.

The one thing all mass shooters have in common is guns. That's it. Mental illness, abusive childhoods, collapsed relationships, setbacks at school or work, and every other form of stress or trauma take place in every nation in the world, but of all the developed democracies only in the United States do we have more than 10,000 gun-related deaths each year. Every other developed democracy has some form of effective gun control. The United States doesn't. Those looking for other explanations have reasons for looking for other explanations. People in the other developed democracies watch the same movies and play the same video games, but they don't shoot each other at anything even approaching the rate that Americans do. It's about guns. When that silicon chip inside the head of people in other developed democracies gets switched to overload, they can't just go grab a gun and start shooting. People in the United States can.

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We will have effective gun control in this country. Maybe it finally will come in the aftermath of the latest shooting massacre, and maybe this time we still will get only partial and inadequate measures, and maybe it will take more shooting massacres, but it will happen. It is inevitable. The tide of history shows that as nations develop and democratize they also come to regulate guns, and their incidents of gun violence dramatically diminish. We are an anomaly in that we don't have effective gun regulation, but we are not an anomaly in that when we do have effective gun regulation we will enjoy the same results enjoyed by those nations that already have it. This country will catch up to the rest of the developed democratic world. It is only a matter of time and needlessly lost lives.

The Second Amendment is an excuse. The Second does not say what those who cling to it want it to say, and only in the last few years have any courts interpreted as saying what those who cling to it want it to say. Courts are political, and judges mostly appointed by right-wing Republicans have interpreted the Second in unprecedented ways, but that's how our judiciary works. Political pendulums swing, and for now they have swung in one direction, but it is inevitable that they eventually will swing in the other direction. One way or another future courts will rule differently, and the Second Amendment no longer will be available to block effective gun regulation. History is on the side of gun control advocates. It is only a matter of time and needlessly lost lives.

I've never been a fan of Original Intent, and however people want to interpret the meaning of the Second, and the meaning of well regulated and the meaning of Militia and the meaning of Security of a free State and the meaning of infringed, the original intent of the framers of the Constitution ultimately is irrelevant. This is about us, not them. The framers could not have imagined the destructive power of modern arms and they also could not have imagined the destructive power of modern armaments. But more importantly, the framers lived in an era that in so many ways to us now seems not only archaic but barbaric. Some of the framers were monarchists. Some were openly racist slave-owners. None seemed to think that women should be allowed to participate in governance. We the People was an exclusive club that excluded a good many and perhaps even a majority of the people. Constitutional literalism is only marginally more relevant to the modern world than is Biblical literalism. We have to define what sort of nation we want based on modern values and modern realities not on the values and realities of some smart but profoundly flawed men who lived more than two centuries ago. We will catch up with the rest of the developed democratic world. It is only a matter of time and needlessly lost lives.

The grief over the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, has been emotionally overwhelming to millions of people who live nowhere near and know no one who lives anywhere near Newtown, Connecticut. And yet, something like this latest massacre was inevitable. Just days before, a jammed gun prevented what almost certainly would have been another massacre, at a shopping mall, near Portland, Oregon. And even despite that unlikely good luck, two people who were out innocently holiday shopping were shot dead, and a third— a teenaged girl— was seriously wounded. And every day, all across this nation, innocent people are shot dead, because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, their lives as precious as every vicitim of Newtown, and their deaths as devastating to those who knew and loved them as every death in Newtown. The excuses don't fly. Guns don't kill people, but people with guns do. At a rate that had stunned us into numbness but now or eventually will stun us into consciousness. It's the guns. It cannot continue, and it won't continue. It is only a matter of time and needlessly lost lives.

The demographics of gun ownership are changing. This is a fact. Gun owners are more likely to be Republican than Democrat, and the Republican Party is an increasingly marginalized demographic. Gun ownership is decreasing, even as the number of guns in circulation is increasing, which means that a smaller number of people is owning a greater number of guns. That is not politically sustainable. The most rapidly growing demographic groups are less likely to own guns and more supportive of gun control. History is moving forward and it is and always has been only a matter of time until the politics catches up. The current trend among conservative judges is the death throes, just as the Republican Party's occasional political successes are but death throes. It is only a matter of time and needlessly lost lives.

There are hunters in nations that have strict gun control. The vast majority of medal winners in shooting events at the 2012 Summer Olympics were from nations that have strict gun control, and the country that ranked first on the medal table has among the most strict. There is no reason that responsible gun owners need fear strict gun control. It will be a hassle for them, and there will be more and higher hoops for them to jump through in order to enjoy their firearms passion, but when gun sales soar in the aftermath of the Newtown horror, and even after President Obama's reelection, it does not inspire confidence in the values, judgment or even basic human decency of a certain cohort of this nation's gun owners.

We will have gun control in this country. History, demographics, and the accumulated and accumulating evidence that it works elsewhere make it inevitable. The accumulated evidence that our archaic lack of gun control does not work also makes it inevitable. The political pendulum will swing, as it already is swinging, and courts and legislatures inevitably will follow public sentiment. It is only a matter of time and needlessly lost lives. How far that pendulum swings also is a matter of time and needlessly lost lives. Because the worse things get, the more people are massacred, the more people are killed in the less headline-grabbing daily accumulation of gun-related violent abominations, the farther that pendulum will swing. Those who fight against effective gun control will, in the end, have done more to assure the more severity of gun control, when gun control inevitably happens, than all the consistent gun control advocates put together. Because gun control will happen in this country. It will be effective. It will work as it works in every other developed democracy. It is only a matter of time and needlessly lost lives.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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