Curbing gun violence
The days are evil but don’t have to get worse
Surely the days are evil, as Eph. 5:16 says. Everyone agreed on that, even if they didn’t quote Scripture. A 24-year-old man opened fire in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater on July 20, killing 12 and wounding dozens. People asked: What was the source of this evil? What could be done to stop it? What was the world coming to?
Instantly there were answers. The root of evil was obvious: We’ve removed God from our schools. No, that wasn’t it. A culture of violent entertainment that glorifies death and destruction was to blame.
What could be done? The solution was clear: Tougher gun control. No, that wasn’t right. We needed more people carrying guns so they could shoot back.
And what is the world coming to? For one thing, an impasse. For several days, arguments about gun violence flared up and then died out, as they always do after a gun massacre. And nothing, it seemed, would change.
But change we must. Everyone knows the danger of weapons of mass destruction. Assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips are the WMD of gun terrorism. They were banned from 1994 to 2004 and should be again. The right to bear arms ought not to include weapons whose only purpose is higher body counts. Gun murders will happen, but restricting certain types of guns would limit the damage and death. The assault weapons ban would have prohibited the assault-style rifle the Colorado shooter used.
Political courage on gun control is in short supply. In 2008 Barack Obama promised to reinstate the assault weapons ban but as president has not tried to fulfill that pledge. Mitt Romney supported the ban as governor of Massachusetts but now shuns any suggestion of tighter gun control.
Again comes the question: What is the world coming to? We assume the world is getting more violent. But there’s strong evidence the opposite is true. In The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Viking, 2011), psychologist Steven Pinker presents mountains of data to show that people living today are much less likely to die a violent death than at any other time in history. The murder rate in medieval Europe was more than 30 times what it is today. Since World War II, wars between developed countries have vanished. Yes, there are fluctuations: The U.S. murder rate spiked in the 1970s and ’80s but since 1990 has dropped to the level of the 1950s.
The days are still evil, but they don’t have to get worse. Overall, the present is less violent than the past, which raises hope for curbing gun violence too.
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