Gun murders: Conservatives should talk to the NRA; liberals should talk to Hollywood

In my latest column I tried to extend an olive branch to the National Rifle Association in the hope that the NRA news conference Friday would bring news of a new willingness to limit military-style assault weapons, and I also tried to make the point that gun violence is a complicated problem that also requires Hollywood, the music business and the video game business to reduce their contribution to the cult of violence. And I called for a dramatically upgraded commitment to mental health research and care for both civilian and military life.

I do have various opinions I deliberately omitted in the hope of advancing an open-minded spirit and less partisan dialogue, and advancing some real action that must involve guns, must involve entertainment and must involve mental health research and care.


Emotional, ineffective gun legislation

The Newtown, Conn., massacre has once again placed the spotlight on the issue of gun control. There are many cries in the wilderness for more stringent gun-control laws. However, the application of such laws would not have prevented the most recent massacre.

The guns used were perfectly legal and the cold-blooded murderer had no criminal record. So even if you had removed from the streets all individuals with criminal records and removed all illegal weaponry, the incident would have still occurred.

Logic would demand that we begin to search for alternative solutions to ideologically driven and ineffective legislation. We should be asking ourselves, what could have prevented or lessened the senseless deaths? Analyzing the story, one can see that the principal and many of the teachers were incredibly heroic in their attempts to physically disarm the shooter and save the children. If they had been trained for physical combat or had access to appropriate weapons which they had been trained to use, the outcome would probably have been most significantly different.


Second Amendment remedy: Protect the hunter, save a kid, ban the machine gun

Today would be an outstanding moment for the leaders, management and members of the National Rifle Association to be statesmen and stateswomen and work to support the real Second Amendment remedy: bipartisan legislation that protects the constitutional right of hunters and others to bear arms but bans the military-style rapid-fire weapons that far too often are used to kill our children and neighbors. I mean this sincerely: I hope the NRA will use its expertise, good offices and influence in favor of legislation that will reduce the number of mass killings of American kids.


Save a kid, arm a teacher

The teachers and principal at Sandy Hook Elementary school, though unarmed and likely terrified, did all they could to try to protect and save the kids, including running TOWARD the gunfire and to their deaths. Had even one been armed, the death toll would have been much lower and we’d be giving prayers of thanks that a madman was stopped, rather than trying to get our heads and broken hearts around the facts of what happened as Newtown buries 20 innocent children just before Christmas.


When, if not now?

As the world learned about the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., where a young man killed 26 people, children and his mother, wearing combat gear and firing a pistol and a semiautomatic rifle, while we watched the president, commander in chief, weep during his televised remarks from the Brady Room (named after a victim of a crazy gun-toter) of the White House about the incident, while experts proffered their favorite nostrums about mental health and the power of prayer and while politicians from both parties silently cowered in fear of the National Rifle Association, an interesting thing happened in Chenping, a small village in China.


Politicizing grief

Anyone who reads my columns and blogs can tell you that it is one of my mantras that politics should take up as little space in your life as possible. If it doesn’t, it’s only out of necessity occasioned by bad government, something we have in surplus.

A normal, healthy person with a functioning conscience should recoil with horror at the gruesome murder of a dozen Americans and the wounding of 70 others in a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo. If you don’t feel that, there’s something wrong with you.


The monster in the political room

All the conversations and op-eds and breast-beating about the recent slaughter in Aurora, Colo., ignores the monster behind all these tragedies. Maniacs, screwed-up kids, violent and sick people commit these atrocities, which violate the social contract, and the people with the power to do something about it ignore the source of these events — weapons of destruction in the hands of the people who bring tragedies to their fellow citizens.


Institutional crimes


These two headlines led the front page of last Saturday’s New York Times. Readers had followed the two stories for years, repulsed but fascinated by stories of vulgar crimes by trusted representatives of respected institutions — the Catholic Church and Penn State University. Both institutions failed their constituents to protect the institutions from embarrassments.


What are the similarities between George Zimmerman and O.J. Simpson?

The second-degree murder charges against George Zimmerman mark a major turning point in a case that triggered a nationwide debate about racial profiling in America and about Florida's "stand your ground" law — which allows people to use deadly force anywhere they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury. The case also highlights glaring and saddening contradictions on how American blacks and the media reacted to O.J. Simpson's alleged killing of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman two decades ago.


Misplaced leadership

With 95 percent of black homicides committed by other blacks, the Congressional Black Caucus members are offering a resolution to honor Trayvon Martin.

For what, being killed? Are we going to honor every victim now, or just every black victim, of a purported interracial crime?

The CBC time would be better spent engaging issues of gang warfare, drugs, black youth unemployment, than eulogizing Trayvon Martin and trying to make him a heroic symbol.