PITTSFIELD

When the Connecticut Elementary school gun massacre occurred, everybody figured that the problem was lack of background checks that would weed out the psychos when one went into the gun shop to buy firearms. Of course this would do nothing of the kind. Even if a person is apparently OK, he can snap anytime without warning. Furthermore, even psychiatrists can’t necessarily tell when an apparently reasonable person will snap.

But the uselessness of "foresight" was ground into us even more painfully with the California killer, Elliot Rodger, who had looked abnormal from the age of eight, couldn’t fit in in three high schools, and tried to throw a girl off a ledge at a party. Once when the police investigated, their conversation with him apparently didn’t bother them because they didn’t even search his room, where they would have found all his guns.

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I sat down this minute at the computer after hearing about yet another school shooting in California. Maybe schools are especially vulnerable because of bullying and adolescent dislike of restrictions. But that is ducking the issue. As that wonderful cartoonist put it in The Eagle, Ford Pintos were recalled for design flaws after they caused 27 deaths. Tylenol was recalled years ago after a mere seven deaths, but guns are still available to the general public after 32,000 deaths per year for decades! Huh?

But if you say that there is just no way we could get rid of every gun, it’s an excuse not to try. Other civilized countries have done it. Forget the Second Amendment, the Constitution has already been amended 27 times. It could certainly be amended one more. It would, of course, require punishing gun ownership severely. Can you imagine the screaming from the NRA?

One thing that might help would be an enormous buy-back by the government after it forbids ownership. But that is expensive. Last I heard, there were more guns in civilian hands than there are people living here. At several hundred dollars each, we’re talking real money.

Another really absurd argument is that a householder must have a gun to protect himself from burglars. But if there are no guns, the burglars won’t have them either. Yet another weak argument is that the problem in the inner cities is gangs, not guns. But that doesn’t hold water, because half the attraction of belonging to a gang is that you can have a gun and feel like a man. Gangs would be reduced tremendously if there were no guns to go with them.

Or suppose the ammunition was not used by a depressed, psychotic young man to shoot up little kids in school. Maybe some 90-year-old granny is living with her son-in-law who owns a gun he keeps in his office. Maybe she has a mild case of Alzheimer’s disease. Her across-the-street neighbor continuously allows their great big dog to do his business in the old girl’s front yard and never picks up the mess. So Granny finds the gun one morning and shoots the lady. That’s sad, but, for me, not half as bad as the dead little kid who got hold of a gun at home and "played" with it.

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Worst of all are the sick adults who actually manufacture guns for children that look like the real thing! Kill a kid and make a buck. How’s that for free enterprise?

So all the "reasons" for having a gun are a lot of baloney. The nasty truth is that the only reason for anyone to fire a gun is to inflict hideous pain. Even those hunters who use bows-and-arrows have a huge nasty tip on the end of the arrow aimed at ripping as much meat as possible to be sure you kill the animal and get your venison. This bow-and-arrow hunting is called a "sport." Funny how inflicting hideous pain on somebody or something in this supposedly civilized nation can be considered a sport.

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The saddest thing about all this is that there is a perfectly good solution to the problem that would enable the wannabe cowboys to keep their guns, but nobody would get killed. Just forbid the production of ammunition, except for the three "well-regulated militias" we already have, the army, the state and local police forces. Right now, if you are a civilian who wants to buy ammo, the dealer doesn’t even have to maintain a record of your name and what you bought! Never mind actually handing your name over to the feds in case the ammo was used in a crime. The dealer would have thrown it away. A buy-back for ammo is more practical since it is far less expensive than a gun.

And yet, this is really a very nice, friendly country. When some child gets cancer, friends take up a collection. Neighbors help neighbors. Gosh, nowadays we even have medical insurance for everybody! The grown daughter of a friend of mine got a job in California requiring a truck, so she purchased it here and drove it across the country. When her truck driver friends heard about her plans, they arranged it so that at each truck stop at the end of the day someone made sure she was all right and reported in to her mom!

Maybe the psychiatrists could figure out why as nice a country as this one should be producing men with such fragile male egos that they must have the capability to inflict terrible pain on somebody to prove they are men.

Dorothy van den Honert is an occasional Eagle contributor.