Have no illusions: the massacre of 19 elementary school students and two teachers in Texas, like all the other atrocities that preceded it – and all those that will undoubtedly follow it – will not lead to a course correction in American gun laws. The few of them that the public takes notice of because of the particularly high number of victims are quickly put into perspective or soon forgotten and in the end only part of the statistics.
The certifies the United States for 2020 45,222 gun deaths. A good half of these are suicides, 43 percent murder and manslaughter. In terms of population, that’s about twenty times the average for western nations.
Reforms will not change that. At most, marginal tightenings with regard to the permissible magazine size or firing rate were and are capable of winning a majority. A ban on classic handguns, which are used in the overwhelming majority of all shootings, including mass shootings, is politically unthinkable and constitutionally out of the question. It would also be difficult to enforce in a country where there are more guns than people and where the right to own a gun is quasi-religious for a significant proportion of the population.
So what to do? Paradoxically, the answer to America’s gun problem may actually be more guns. The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) dogma that the only thing that can stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun has much to say in a country where bad men are guaranteed unhindered access to guns is.
When NRA President Wayne LaPierre suggested arming security guards and suitably trained teachers in every American school after the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, the New York Times, pars pro toto for the American left, called it “mendacious, delusional, almost insane .”
The effect of such measures is actually less than what is often claimed by the Republican side. Still, Democrats would be wise to bolster civilian defenses rather than pretend that phoning the police is always the most effective means of self-defense should an assassin suddenly open fire.