The news this week of yet another mass shooting, this time in a private school in a wealthy neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee, in which six persons (including three, nine year-old children) were killed, once again has highlighted the need for our federal government to ban assault-style weapons.
America stands alone in the world for this sort of self-inflicted carnage. In no other country can heavily-armed individuals wreak tragedy upon families and communities because of easy access to military-grade weaponry.
Australia, a country with a Wild West mentality similar to ours, banned assault-style weapons in 1996 after a mass shooting in a cafe in the city of Port Arthur in which 35 people were killed and another 13 were wounded. The tough new laws banned the sale and importation of all automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns; required individuals to present a legitimate reason (and wait 28 days) to buy a firearm; and called for a massive, mandatory gun-buyback. Australia’s government confiscated and destroyed nearly 700,000 firearms, reducing the number of gun-owning households by half.
The result? Since 1996, there has been one mass shooting in Australia.
New Zealand enacted similar laws in 2019 after a mass shooting in a mosque in Christchurch and since that time, there have been no mass shootings.
The U.S. banned the sale of assault-style weapons in 1994 as part of a wide-ranging anti-crime bill, but that provision of the legislation expired in 2004.
And that’s where we stand today — with mass shootings now a regular part of American life.
With politicians in both parties subservient to the small minority of vocal, one-issue voters, the chances of enactment of common-sense laws regulating the types of guns that can be sold in this country are just about zero, even though a majority of Americans support such laws.
Even more depressing is that laws in states such as Massachusetts that regulate gun ownership and possession soon may be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
To paraphrase the last line of the Star Spangled Banner: America is the land of the free — and the home of the dead.