Thursday, April 23, 2009

April 20, 2009

      Americans keep killing one another with guns.  That's not new, of course.  One recent survey I saw said we have 14.4 gun deaths a year per 100,000 people--the highest if any industrial country.  Japan had the lowest rate, .5.  It's been in the news a lot lately--stories today about a father who killed his wife, his three kids and then himself.
     President Obama, in Mexico, talked about American guns there and here.  He expressed hope that things would get better,  but he added, "None of us is under the illusion...that would be easy."  Well, no.  The problem is the Second Amendment to the Constitution which says:  "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."  Never mind militias, which we don't really have any more.  The Army or the National Guard will give you a gun if you join up.  But the second part of the amendment is pretty straightforward:  "The right...shall not be infringed." 
     Gun dealers run background checks on potential customers.  At gun shows, that isn't even done.  Your basic nut case can buy a gun there.  And there's no great chance of that changing any time soon.
     E J Dionne points out in his Washington Post column that President Obama wasn't elected by gun owners.  He cites an exit poll showing Obama carried 37% of the voters in gun-owning households, 65% in households that didn't own guns.  But does that mean the president is going to push hard for more stringent regulations?  Not that I've noticed.
     Congress is notoriously scared of the gun lobby.  Mr. Obama isn't picking a fight with it either. 

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