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C. Fraser Smith: Giving up on guns

If we hadn’t given up on controlling gun violence after the 2012 massacre in Newtown, the last shred of hope withered after the killings in Charleston.

A pathetic drill replaces hope.

Not again, we say to ourselves  before we say: Of course, again. What did we expect?

Nonetheless, shock and grief and loss.

And then another wave of despair.

We are asked to accept fatal shootings as if there is no possible way to control or limit or end them.

Schoolchildren are murdered by a deranged teenager.

Moviegoers are shot dead in their seats.

A South Carolina state senator and eight of his parishioners are shot during a Bible study session in his historic AME Church.

And these are the shootings that make headlines.

The president calls the grieving families. He’s sick of it, angry about it. There are other things he would like to make great speeches about.

And then the other steps in the drama:

A delegation comes to Congress with a plea: “common-sense gun control” — not because they expect action — because they feel they have to do something and because they owe it to the deceased.

Congress, they know, will do nothing. Our representatives will say no to the Newtown children’s parents, no to the moviegoers’ survivors and no (almost certainly) to the delegation from Charleston.

The NRA is alternatively praised or condemned for its success in paralyzing the House and the Senate. All these men and women can do is attend the funerals.

Nothing happens. Only moments of silence, hand-wringing, broken hearts. We are told in so many words to accept the carnage. Nothing can be done. Periodic outbreaks of this sort is our way of life.

We wonder what two Democratic  candidates for the U.S. Senate have in mind when they address the issue. A newspaper story about their statements includes the forecast that nothing much will happen in this Republican-run Congress. But Democrats have not done better.

“We have to take on the NRA with the force of a people committed to ridding our country of a dangerous and deadly gun epidemic,” wrote Rep. Donna Edwards in The Sun.

“Reducing gun violence requires effective leadership,” said her opponent, Rep. Chris Van Hollen. His campaign is centered on the idea that he can get things done. We don’t stop to ask ourselves what he might do differently.

Fifteen years ago, Van Hollen helped pass a trigger-lock bill. Maryland has also passed bills limiting availability of handguns — and, two years ago, a bill that would require fingerprinting of gun buyers. States with the fingerprinting laws see less gun crime.

It’s not enough. What we need is a Congress and a gun lobby to join the effort to combat the plague.

Or surely the pathetic drill will never end. In response to the Van Hollen-Edwards exchange we get this boilerplate:

The American people don’t want more gun control.

What all but the deranged do want is less shooting in elementary schools, churches and movie theaters.

This is not likely to stop, though, until leaders say we no longer accept mass murder as the price of a free society.

That’s what we’re doing now. There has to be another way.

C. Fraser Smith is senior news analyst at WYPR. HIs column appears Fridays in The Daily Record. His email address is fsmith@wypr.org.