Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Silver Bullets for Gun Control

It takes a split second and pennies to end a life but hours of surgery and months of rehab, often hundreds of thousands of dollars to save someone struck by a bullet.

Gabrielle Giffords, living proof of this lopsided human cost accounting, visited Newtown this week with her husband former astronaut Mark Kelly to rally support for efforts to prevent future gun violence

In a USA Today OpEd, they write, “We don’t want to take away your guns any more than we want to give up the two guns we have locked in a safe at home. What we do want is what the majority of NRA members and other Americans want: responsible changes in our laws to require responsible gun ownership and reduce gun violence.”

As Joe Biden’s task force meets with anti-gun groups today and prepares to confront NRA lobbyists tomorrow, prospects are dim for meaningful political action anytime soon, barring any unlikely unilateral executive action.

Such a sad outlook recalls a proposal by the late Sen.Pat Moynihan two decades ago. The scholarly sociologist suggested that, since the nation is flooded with guns that will “last forever,” lawmakers concentrate on bullets instead.

“We have only a three-year supply of ammunition,” he observed, proposing a tax, not on bullets for hunting or target shooting, but those designed to penetrate armor and cause unspeakable damage to human bodies.

“Ten thousand percent,” he suggested to make a 20-cartridge pack cost $1,500. “Guns don’t kill people, bullets do.”

Since then, in Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine,” Chris Rock has raised the ante: “If a bullet costs $5,000, there’d be no more innocent bystanders.”

Ludicrous? Perhaps, no but more off-the-wall than NRA proposals to make OK Corral armed camps out of the nation’s schools.

There won’t be any political silver bullet soon for preventing the slaughter of innocents, but making it more expensive for madmen to take so many lives so easily and cheaply might be a start.

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