Comedians often put it best …

Jim Jefferies: “In Australia, we had guns. Right up until 1996. In 1996, Australia had the biggest massacre on Earth. Still hasn’t been beaten! Now after that, they banned the guns. In the 10 years before Port Arthur, there was 10 massacres. Since the gun ban in 1996, there hasn’t been a single massacre. Now, I don’t know how or why this happened …”

Kyle Kinane: “I was going to make jokes about the mass shootings in the United States, but I couldn’t … because of all the mass shootings …”

I’m starting with comedians. But this will be the most serious of these issue papers because it’s not complicated. This is a clear-cut case of right and wrong. And if you’re wrong, you may not readily admit it.

But you already know it.

I’m sure someone will come in with some random factoid or pedantic explanation of why an AR-15 should be readily accessible for all Americans, even those who have mental issue or warning signs that can be seen from space. Or maybe you’ll (figuratively) shoot the messenger and point out that Jim Jefferies is an occasionally mean-spirited comedian who’s done a ton of drugs in his life.

Stop.

Think about it.

We all need self-reflection from time to time, and this is a good one.

Do you really have a logical explanation why this shit happens here, in the supposedly greatest country on Earth, on such a routine basis a shooting generally has to hit a double-digit death toll just to make the front page? (Or go viral, in today’s media landscape.)

Do you really have a logical explanation why it’s more an invasion of privacy to do better background checks on gun sales than it is to make people go through airport security?

Oh, background checks won’t work and can be evaded, you say? OK. Do you have a logical explanation why we don’t give up on deporting people who’ve been productive neighbors and loving parents in our country for 20 years but we give up on making a background check work?

No.

You don’t.

And deep down, I’m sure you know that.

You know that an AK-style rifles and large magazines aren’t necessary for hunting or self-defense. They’re useful for three things — trying to overthrow the government, trying to mask insecurities with macho posturing, and murder.

You may keep arguing because you think it’s a good intellectual exercise to be a contrarian once in a while. You know what? It is.

But maybe pick a topic in which the consequences aren’t a bunch of dead children and mourning parents. Let’s argue about soccer. Or why Yes’ efforts to reproduce Close to the Edge over the years have been tedious, incoherent exercises in instrumental noodling.

Arguing about guns? While we fiddle around with the issue, people are dying.

Yes, guns kill people, says The Economist (big paywall).

The facts are quite clear (all these are from a Vox roundup of various studies except where noted):

  • Our gun homicide rate dwarfs that of other countries.
  • States with more guns have more gun homicides. Countries with more guns have more gun homicides.
  • Guns increase the risk of suicide.
  • Guns increase the risk of police being murdered.
  • The “Good Guy With A Gun” myth is just that. A myth. If a bunch of well-armed police in Uvalde can’t stop a mass shooter, how is one untrained civilian supposed to do it?

The Second Amendment is poorly written, but it’s clear that regulation is permissible. The First Amendment doesn’t permit people to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. The Second Amendment doesn’t permit people to build bombs in their basements and shouldn’t permit people to arm themselves with enough guns and ammunition to outfit a entire platoon.

Let’s rewind. Ronald Reagan supported waiting periods and background checks for handguns.

Eventually, we got the Brady Bill, named after Jim Brady, the press secretary who was shot along with Reagan by John Hinckley and suffered from his wound for the rest of his life.

Here’s an ATF description of that bill: “On November 30, 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was enacted, amending the Gun Control Act of 1968. The Brady Law imposed as an interim measure a waiting period of 5 days before a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer may sell, deliver, or transfer a handgun to an unlicensed individual. The waiting period applies only in states without an acceptable alternate system of conducting background checks on handgun purchasers. The interim provisions of the Brady Law became effective on February 28, 1994, and ceased to apply on November 30, 1998. While the interim provisions of the Brady Law apply only to handguns, the permanent provisions of the Brady Law apply to all firearms.”

In 1994, a bipartisan bill banned certain types of “assault” weapons. It worked. Then it expired.

And you know what happened next.

And you know we can prevent a lot of it. Not all. But a lot.

And you know it doesn’t mean the Army is going to show up at your door to take your hunting rifle or your handgun.

And you may know that many years before Yoda said “wars not make one great,” Charles Bronson’s character in The Magnificent Seven laid bare the notion that people with guns are braver than those without …

Because you know the practical way forward is to make sure the “bad guy with a gun” doesn’t exist. That’s the only way to keep that bad guy from getting on a rooftop and raining death from above. That’s the only way to cut down on violence from “bad guys” in drug deals or robberies that have gone awry.

You know all of these things.

Now act.

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