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Whose rights take precedence?

MARTY MOORE Suncoast News columnist
Published:   |   Updated: March 12, 2013 at 01:02 PM

I hadn't planned to write this column in the aftermath of the killings in Newtown. Just five months ago in the aftermath of the killings in Aurora, Colo., I wrote all I thought I had to say about guns. It turns out I didn't.

I remain troubled by phone conversations with my distant grandchildren, each occasion reminding me of the torment those Connecticut parents are suffering and will continue to suffer, especially at every Christmas season in their future.

We can't protect every child all the time but progressives should not be so quick to dismiss the idea of professional armed security in schools choosing that course. Unfortunately that's what it's come to. Whether it's airports or courthouses or power plants by necessity we've constructed armed camps. Should little kids be any less shielded?

We'll never perfect identifying every messianic madman or mentally disturbed person with a grudge. We'll never completely un-ring the bell on crude, violent video games and the coarseness that passes for entertainment. But if we throw enough remedies against the wall some – most? – will stick. What's our choice?

But when all is said and done it still comes down to the obscenely easy accessibility to guns. We now own more than 300 million; 5 percent of the world's population and 50 percent of the world's guns.

The National Rifle Association's CEO Wayne LaPierre again ludicrously insists guns are not the problem. Of course they're the problem. In no other developed country does gun violence – domestic, street as well as rampages – come anywhere close to America's: Japan, 0.02 gun homicides per 100,000 population; Britain, 0.04; Germany, 0.06; Australia, 0.09; Canada, 0.76. The U.S. is 3.7, or about 20 times higher than the average for Western nations in which restrictive gun laws are the norm. There are 12,000 homicides in the U.S. – four times as many victims who died on 9/11 – every year.

Do we have 20 times more crazy people? Are our video games 20 times more vulgar? Are there 20 times more "soft" targets here? The only variable is the availability of guns. The NRA cannot deny that reality any longer.

The gun culture is so ubiquitous, so unbridled and so menacing we can't continue to abdicate national gun policy to the weapons and ammunition merchants for which the NRA fronts and to a minority of NRA members – only a million or so out of 4.3 million – who insist that even reasonable regulations to: 1) close the "gun show loophole" that puts tens of thousands of illegal guns on the streets and 2) restrict extended capacity magazines is an infringement of their rights.

Tell that to those Sandy Hook parents who thought their babies had a right to grow-up.

Marty Moore is a freelance writer living in Port Richey.