THE COUNTRY hardly had time to process the last senseless act of mass gun violence before Cedric L. Ford shot 17 people in central Kansas on Thursday, killing at least three of his victims. Perhaps Mr. Ford was worried about losing his job and snapped. Perhaps he was angry at a co-worker. No matter the circumstances, this was another reminder of the dreaded efficiency with which guns kill — and of the bloody irrationality of the nation’s lax weapons laws.
When we wrote about the gun-assisted rampage in Kalamazoo, Mich., noting that it was just one of many recent instances of gun violence, the National Rifle Association demanded on Twitter that we tell them what law would have prevented the Kalamazoo shooting. The gun lobby cannot fall back on that lame argument in the Kansas case. If Mr. Ford’s weapons had been confiscated when he was served with a protection order, or if he had been unable to obtain the assault rifle he toted around, he might have killed fewer people.
Yet focusing on individual cases misses the point. The point is not that one rule change — or even several — will stop every instance of gun violence; it is that we are a country saturated with firearms. When guns are so easily available to so many people under such loose restrictions, more people die. Emotionally desperate people kill themselves more easily. Children accidentally shoot each other. There are fewer obstacles in the way of crime guns proliferating across the porous borders of states and cities with varying degrees of gun regulation. Spectacular instances of gun violence grab people’s attention. But the nation’s ongoing epidemic of gun death is mundane, routine, accepted, when it should be none of those things.
Other nations have disgruntled employees, suicidal people, violent video games, poverty and street violence. Other nations have people who struggle in their personal relationships or at their jobs. What makes the United States different is the huge number of guns in circulation — nearly one firearm for every person in the country — along with a strong pro-gun lobby that prevents seemingly any popular, common-sense gun restriction from passing on the federal level, where such restrictions could have maximum effectiveness.
When we checked the Gun Violence Archive on Monday afternoon, there had been 6,886 instances of gun violence in the United States in this still-young year. By Saturday afternoon, that number had ticked up to 7,548. In the space of those five days, 162 more people died, according to the archive’s count. Seven of those killed or injured were below the age of 12. Most of these people did not get a headline. Most of them will simply be folded into a big number. The nation will never forget their stories, because the nation never knew them to begin with. Yet it is for all of these people, not just Mr. Ford’s 17 victims, that the country must act.
Read more on this topic: