Right after 9-11, a Republican-led House, a split Senate, and a Republican president resoundingly passed legislation aimed at protecting Americans by seeking to stop future terrorist acts. A small minority of Republican and Democratic officials expressed concern that such measures cut too deeply into individual freedoms. They believed that limiting such freedoms in order to combat massive violence undercut American ideals. Their viewpoints were rejected by the majority. On that day--and in the days since in ever-increasing ways--sacrificing a few personal freedoms was the least we could do to combat terrorism.
In terms of casualties, my country experiences a 9-11 about once every 3 months: roughly 12,000 firearm-causing homicides per year. Rather than compelling our elected leaders to action, inexplicably, this reality compels most of them to silence.
So I woke up this morning as confused as ever. Why do a majority of Republicans and Democrats favor limiting personal freedoms to combat some modes of mass killing ("terrorism") while being opposed to limiting personal freedoms to combat other modes of mass killing ("firearm murders")? Why is this hypocrisy tacitly endorsed by our elected leaders?
Some justifiably argue that we need greater enforcement of the laws. Others say we simply live in a violent culture. There are no easy answers; if there were, responsible people would have fixed this problem already.
And that's the crux of the issue: too many Americans don't think there's a problem with firearm murders in this country. Too many Americans believe it's simply a fact of life that every day, about 30-35 of us will be shot to death--that every day, hundreds or thousands of us will mourn the loss of our friend or family member.
Our elected leaders have a responsibility to come together to hammer out reasonable firearm laws that protect both gun ownership rights and personal freedoms, and to promote measures to ensure that such laws are enforced. Will this eliminate firearm murders? Most likely not, at least not in my lifetime. But if such changes increase the odds that you and I won't get shot to death, it's damn well worth the effort.