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Thursday, October 12, 2017

What happened in Vegas

What happened in Vegas
Is a gradualist approach the way toward sensible gun regulation?

Lord knows that around the world there is no lack of opportunities for peacemaking. We don't have to go looking overseas for conflicts to resolve; within our nation a cry for peace rises to the heavens. Our latest immigration bans and refugee quotas cut off the "other" we perceive as a threat, but they don't protect us from the darkness that lurks within our borders and within our hearts.

On October 1, Stephen Craig Paddock rained death down from a hotel tower on a crowd of helpless people below, taking 58 lives and wounding or injuring more than 500 others. Once again a preventable and senseless human suffering was visited on hundreds of families.

"Thought and prayers" will never be enough to help them recover from this inexplicable violence. The indifference to such mayhem maintained by gun rights absolutists such as the leadership of the National Rifle Association and the shoulder-shrugging they purchase in has left citizens exasperated and exhausted. If the slaughter of the innocents in Newtown, Connecticut in 2013 was not enough to propel a national change of heart, what about this latest massacre will do it? The higher body count? The nature of the weapons used and the size of the arsenal amassed?

Some describe this periodic bloodletting as the price of freedom, fetishizing the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. But people are also the sacred recipients of a right to life. The purported threat of government tyranny needs to be rationally assessed alongside demonstrable threats to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness that proceed from a gun-happy society: 33,000 deaths by firearms a year; communities broken by gun violence; families destroyed by it.

How do we put a stop to this suffering in a nation that refuses to respond to a continuing epidemic of everyday gun violence and its profoundly abnormal mass-casualty events? Campaigns for broad gun-control edicts merely provoke a well-funded and persistent resistance. Perhaps a gradualist reform would have better luck.

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