While 26 graves get colder in Newtown, Conn., and hearts everywhere continue to feel the pain of them, the sales of automatic weapons get hotter in this country by the day. In my own very average, very mild hometown, the local gun show with its proud display of heavy weapons was the biggest draw of Christmas week. In other parts of the country, guns that sold for $700 a few months ago now go for well over $1,000.
Invincibility sells, it seems. The only problem is that, despite the classic arguments in favor of guns, invincibility can’t really be guaranteed.
“Guns don’t kill people,” the National Rifle Association argues on great billboards at great expense, “people do.” Clever. At first glance. And even correct, at one level. But any child knows — even children the age of the ones those guns killed in Connecticut know — that guns can’t kill unless people can get them. Any people. Mentally disturbed people. Distraught and depressed people. Angry people.
Countries in which guns are not so easily available to people do not have anywhere near the rate of gun deaths that we do. Our gun death rate is 10.2 people per 100,000. Japan’s gun death rate is one person for every 2 million people. Go figure…