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Another day, another shooting in public, this time killing seven and injuring three.  The high death toll is almost entirely due to the attacker being armed with a gun.  A gun is not the only way to kill people, but it is one of the most lethal.  Had the solitary attacker been armed with a machete, or a bow and arrow, or a baseball bat, it is highly unlikely that as many people would have been killed or wounded.  We never hear of mass killings occurring in public from a person armed with a baseball bat or a machete; indeed we rarely hear of anyone even attempting such an attack, to say nothing of multi-body death counts.  No, if you want to kill lots of people quickly, you definitely need a gun.  

But as we are told time and again, guns don't kill people.  No, it's true, the gun is  a passive instrument, capable of both good and evil, depending on the intentions of the person holding the gun.  And that is why no effort should be made to limit the sale of guns to the public.  We can't put the blame on the gun.  The problem is that in yesterday's shooting, the gun was being used by the wrong person.  In the right hands, that gun would have been used to protect the peaceable students.  Sadly, that person wasn't around yesterday (they're never around when you need them!), only the crazy mass-shooter was.

See the person who did the shooting yesterday was crazy and should never be allowed to possess a gun.  And now that we know he is crazy, he will never be allowed to buy a gun again.  And the police have this guy, they know who he is, and his photo and identifying information will be entered into a large computer database so that that person can never get hold of a gun again.  Good job boys, chalk one up for law enforcement.

The gun industry, which sells guns and ammo for profit, is taking this problem very seriously.  Surely, it's not very good PR if your product was just used to gun down seven people in the span of seconds (when we are taking about a device sold for the purpose of killing many people quickly, is there such a thing as bad publicity?!?!?!).  Limiting the sale of those guns and ammo would hurt the profits of the gun industry, so they have a much better plan: sell bazillions of guns to whoever wants one, use the profits to buy the law-makers and laws to sell even more guns, and then, if someone goes off the reservation and shoots up a school or something, we can be certain that person is a nutcase and we take away that person's guns.  In this way, the profits of the gun industry are protected, and people who want to have lots of guns are free to do so.

The problem is that while every gun owner individually is a highly responsible, law-abiding citizen who only wants to protect their person and home, and sees no reason why they should be tarred with the same brush as the gun owners who go crazy (and I've personally talked with a lot of gun-owners, and I can tell you they all speak of themselves this way), but as a group, all gun owners together are highly murderous.  As a group, gun owners are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the US every year (the guns didn't do those shootings, the gun-owners did).  And the only way to determine which are the responsible ones and which are the crazy ones is to give them all guns, and see what happens.  

Because before he shot dead seven classmates at Oikos University yesterday, One Goh was just a law-abiding citizen enjoying his rights to gun ownership.  And look at George Zimmerman, a paragon of responsible gun ownership: his job required him to carry a gun and he had received training in the proper and responsible handling of a gun.  Zimmerman was exactly the kind of model citizen gun-owner that gun-advocates tell us need to have a gun for a safer America, and whose rights would be trampled if he was denied gun ownership.  There is simply no way to know Zimmerman could not be trusted with lethal firepower until he shot an unarmed teen walking down the street.  And Jared Loungher was just a kid who had a couple of brushes with school authorities and had every right to purchase a hand-gun and the extended ammo clip that he used to shoot twenty people at a supermarket, including a member of congress.

Most often, the only way to know someone should not be allowed to purchase or own a gun is after they have used one to shoot multiple persons in a public place.  Indeed, that is pretty much the ONLY standard the gun industry will accept in determining who should not be allowed to buy a gun.  Which makes perfect sense: they make a profit, AND we indentify the nutcases who shouldn't own guns.  And now that we know Mr. Goh should not own a gun, he won't be allowed to buy one.  Which should be a comfort to us all, but of course it is not.  Because there are 40 million or so gun owners in the US.  If only one percent of them turn out to be crazy (a lower incidence than the occurrence of mental illness in the US population, according to psychiatrists), that would mean there are another 400,000 crazy gun owners out there, waiting for their moment

Of course, knowing there are crazy gun-owners out there waiting for their chance to strike is largely what fuels the mania to purchase more guns.  Which suits the needs of the gun industry just fine, and at the same time, kills tens of thousands of Americans every year.  And a vicious cycle is perpetuated: a lone crazed gunman kills in public, the public is frightened and wants to protect itself by buying guns, which in turn results in more crazy people owning more guns, raising the likelihood that someone is going to go off and shoot a bunch of people in public.

Meanwhile, we can cheer the efforts of the gun industry and gun lobby to identify those who shouldn't own guns by making guns widely available to see who uses them to engage in a mass public shooting: this strategy appears to have born fruit.  Not only has the gun industry had another profitable year, they have identified another crazy gun-owner who will never be allowed to buy a gun again.

Limiting the number of guns is not the answer.  Because guns don't kill people; people who own guns kill people.  And we will never know who those people are until they have an opportunity to own a gun.  The sooner we can put guns into the hands of all Americans, the sooner we will know who shouldn't have them.

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