Our national schizophrenia on firearms defies rational explanation. In the wake of yesterday's Supreme Court decision, both presidential candidates and, according to public opinion polls, most voters believe in "the right to bear arms."
Yet only one out of three Americans owns a gun and, after mass murders like Virginia Tech, there is an upsurge of grief and outrage at the easy availability of deadly weapons.
Somehow, there is a disconnection between the idea of guns and the reality of what they do that can't be explained away by NRA lobbying or the fierce protestations of "gun nuts."
How do we reconcile the apparent contradiction that many of those who believe in preserving the life of fetuses are just as passionate about the right to own weapons that kill human beings after birth?
By now we are inured to arguments such as that in a "liberal elite" New York Times editorial today:
"This is a decision that will cost innocent lives, cause immeasurable pain and suffering and turn America into a more dangerous country. It will also diminish our standing in the world, sending yet another message that the United States values gun rights over human life."
Many of us agree with that, but there is no justification for feeling morally superior to those who deny it if we can't find a way to talk about that basic human difference without demonizing each other.