Monday, April 06, 2009

Gunnin' For The Bottom

After only the second mass murder by a non-white American, perhaps now a legitimate dialogue about gun control can take place in this country:
As the nation gets a clearer picture of two killers who have made headlines in recent days -- one near Pittsburgh, one in Binghamton, N.Y. -- some are wondering whether Americans have too much access to guns.
[...] As the gunman, identified as 41-year-old Jiverly Voong, blasted his way through the American Civic Association, DeLucia, 61, stayed on the phone for 38 minutes, guiding police and trying to provide them with information to prevent more people from being shot. Voong killed 13 people before turning the gun on himself.
[...] On Saturday, one day after the Binghamton shootings, three Pittsburgh-area police officers were gunned down after responding to what they thought was a domestic disturbance call. Richard Poplawski, 23, the alleged shooter, was shot several times in the leg.
I suspect there's a small number of gun nuts out there now, reading about this story and realizing that yet another exclusive domain of whites, and particularly, white males, is being outsourced to lower-wage criminals: spectacular mass murder.
Sort of takes the fun out of killing people to make a political point, like the militias of Montana and Michigan would be wont to do, or the Oklahoma City terrorists when they might just as easily fire back.
A point I've always stressed in any gun discussion here is that there is a definite need for some guns in America, and Binghamton is on the cusp of an area where guns might be needed.
But certainly not automatic weapons.
Binghamton is a fairly large town, a city even, at the intersection of three interstate highways: NYS Route 17 (soon to be Federal Interstate Highway 86) and Interstates 81 & 88. I've walked the banks of the Susquehana there, and had a draft or two in some of the bars there. Indeed, I've even visited during the gay pride weekend.
Yes, it's that evolved a town.
Drive 90 minutes in any direction, and you are in the middle of the wilderness: a forest, a nature preserve, a state park. Up there, it's bear country, even puma country. You can't always call the cops and expect them to show up in the same hour, although they try their hardest. So yea, a long barrel gun is a necessity and since it's not likely you'd get a second shot quickly, even these don't have to be semi-automatic. And handguns? Forget it. You ain't taking down a bear or even a deer with a .44, sorry.
Those are guns I can support. I cannot support a gun that a man can walk into a building with and take out a dozen people in an urban setting (or suburban school or a rural church). That's just patently ludicrous and anyone who defends them should not be taken seriously.
When police departments nationwide, departments made up of people like any other average American and without any "liberal" agenda at all, can warn against the ease of purchase of guns, it's time we took the issue to heart.
Maybe now, the extremist gun owners on the far right lunatic fringe will sit down and seriously reconsider their knee-jerk reaction to even the most reasonable of controls on guns and gun ownership: licensing, registration, and criminal background checks on all gun sales. We require insurance to own a car, even the most minimal insurance. We can surely require *something* that minimizes the likelihood that we'll have to watch mass funeral services for innocent people ever again.