How long are we going to allow this carnage in the United States?


New York went through another tragic ordeal when a gunman fired on a supermarket, this time in Buffalo. Whenever you enter a market or a subway, there is always the possibility that a madman will appear and kill you.

So what are you doing? You can put armed guards in schools and supermarkets, but in the end, how can you stop someone who wants to hurt (read as “shoot”) other people? Well, you can just stay home. It’s ridiculous, because we all have to eat. I was at the supermarket this morning thinking about the possibility of a gunman shooting the place.

None of us can think of a surefire way to avoid being a horrible statistic. We all think this will not happen to us and we demand that the government protect us. Governor Kathy Hochul was quick to point out that she herself was from Buffalo. Schools now have resource (police) officers stationed there. I’ve heard people claim that “a good guy with a gun” can prevent this kind of gun violence, but that’s just not true. One such person was shot and killed in Buffalo.

Every time we see a heinous act like this, people are quick to suggest what we could do to end these tragedies, once and for all. At the top of everyone’s list of preventative measures is tighter controls on gun ownership in this country. Yes, that is exactly what should happen, but we know that the American psyche revolves around the right to own guns. It’s crazy, it’s despicable and it’s incredibly dangerous to have so many armed individuals. Some firearms owners would have us believe that their lives and property must be protected so that they have their guns close at hand. This, despite the fact that home invasions are a relatively rare occurrence.

I really don’t know how it all started. Maybe it’s because of early Western heroes like Matt Dillon and Wyatt Earp who solved their problems by shooting people with their six guns. Maybe it’s violent video games. Or maybe it’s the simple fact that the manufacture of weapons in this country has reached absurd proportions.

There are something like 393,000,000 guns in the United States. That’s more guns than people, by far. In Montana, more than 66% of adults own a firearm. We’ve all heard of a child who found a gun and accidentally hurt himself or someone else. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, guns are now the leading cause of death among children. One can only wonder about the parents who are responsible for the way weapons are kept. A person with a gun at home is unlikely to prevent the kind of thing we saw in that Buffalo supermarket or any of the other massacres that are all too familiar in our news programs of the evening.

Sunday Freeman columnist Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected]


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