The Other Pandemic Returns: Gun Violence

In the last week, we have been reminded again what “normal” looks like in America—18 people gunned down in two incidents separated by many miles but linked by the all-too-familiar presence of weapons of mass killing in the hands of angry young men. A policeman and a masseuse, a small business owner and a young worker are among the many people who left home one morning to go about their business and then encountered deadly violence unleashed on them without reason.

Atlanta and Boulder are cities to add to the sad list of places where ordinary Americans paid the price for the cowardice of politicians in the pocket of a gun lobby that sees any restrictions on access to lethal weapons as an infringement on….its business interests and the Second Amendment with which they shield those interests. We need sensible gun safety legislation, and most Americans support this. As Wesleyan historian Jennifer Tucker has been showing for many years now, basic gun regulations have been seen as fundamental to a healthy society at least since the founding of the republic. As Prof. Tucker argued in a 2015 op-ed with Matt Miller:  “Firearm violence is a public health crisis no less serious than those associated with automobiles. Our experience with autos and pollution shows that, along with other measures, sensible gun regulations could save lives.

Many societies have angry young men, and many have been plagued by combinations of hatred and mental illness that seem to afflict too many Americans. But the United States fuels a pandemic of violence with the business of gun access, creating a pandemic which shows no sign of abating. We could slow it down, however. All we have to do is pass gun safety regulations that would make it more challenging for those filled with rage to inflict harm on innocent people trying to go about their lives.