Massacre at the Safeway

I have been reading a lot this weekend about the attempted assassination of U.S. House Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ 8), and concurrent murder of six or seven bystanders in Arizona.

National Public Radio, which broke the story, had said at one point that Congresswoman Giffords had died–only to retract that on the internet several minutes later. (It makes you wonder whether “have to be first” journalism isn’t just a big disservice to the traditional “tell you what’s really going on” kind.) You refresh your screen and the news changes.

I happen to be a believer in gun control, which is not the same as–and often gets confused by the gun zanes as–gun abolition. I don’t think the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment ever took away the power of states to regulate the guns. To me, it’s much too easy for the wrong people to get a gun. And, there are millions of guns “loose” out there, that other people don’t know who has them or where they are.

The idea that America was always some gun-toting jurisdiction is a fiction of Hollywood and 1950’s television. Especially the lies told about the Old West. All the better (i.e. real) history says that when an armed person came upon a group of people living as a town or settlement, they usually were required to disarm, (i.e. there was gun control).

Doesn’t this make sense? Why would anyone let strangers come into a community, armed?

Extremists have taken over the debate on this since the 1960’s, and now they insist that any regulation on the gun is somehow “unconstitutional”.

But then, you look at what went on in that Arizona shopping center yesterday, with all those innocent people–several elderly, a federal judge, and even a 9-year-old girl–who were killed, and you really have to wonder that the anti-regulation people need to make a stronger case than “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” (Fine, why do the rest of us have to risk coming in contact with the people using them to do these horrible things? They never have the answer to that one.)

I just came from a country where the guns are regulated, and even knives are regulated. That doesn’t mean crime involving guns and knives don’t happen in Japan, it’s that the regulation makes it exceedingly rare that it happens.

If you polled America to find out how many people don’t want to shot at Safeway, or shot while meeting the local Congresswoman, I have a feeling you’d get an overwhelming majority.

I suggest the ongoing gun debate focus there.

[Update: Someone, somewhere, must already have pointed out the irony of this happening near a store called “Safeway”.]