The recent murders of nine people in a mass shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, has of course sent shock waves throughout North America. Once again, America is left mourning the loss of several lives at the hands of an angry gunman. That mourning is something it has done numerous times in the past decade, as there have been over 30 mass shootings in less than ten years. Of course, in the wake of this tragedy, Americans have begun talking about guns, gun culture, gun laws, and gun control. What will be done?
The argument about guns in America is a pointless one because, frankly, the pro-gun lobby won the debate many years ago. Like that Japanese soldier living on an island for decades, unaware that WWII was long over, the anti-gun crowd continues to fight a battle that it already lost.
Americans long ago made up their minds in regards to guns. They want to keep guns and it is likely that no tragedy is great enough to change that fact. Not even a little bit. In fact, Americans not only want to keep their guns, they want to change very little in regards to how they keep them, how they get them, or what they do with them.
America has far more gun homicides than the world's other wealthiest nations and has mass murders at a far higher rate . It also has some of the most lenient gun laws and almost as many guns as there are people.
By contrast, the nations with the lowest amount of gun deaths have the strictest gun laws. Even within America's borders, the states with the strictest gun laws have the fewest gun homicides. Fewer guns equals fewer gun deaths. Those are just the facts.
But none of that matters. Those numbers can be added up and tossed around all day. In fact, they often are. But nothing changes because change is the one thing Americans don't really want when it comes to their guns.
Americans' want for guns has always outweighed the facts. It did before this recent mass shooting and it will after the next one. It's not just the NRA who has seen to this, but a majority of Americans. Liberal or conservative, Americans overwhelmingly say they want guns to be legal and available. That's right, even people on the left, often accused of being anti-gun merely because of their political leaning, still want their guns. Notice how very few politicians of either major party has ever come out in strict opposition to guns or extremely in favour of any major gun restrictions. A little lip service, but that's about it.
Within hours of every mass shooting, there is an outcry for talk about gun control. That cry is usually shouted down by those who say it's "too soon" to talk about such things. Then people pass around memes and articles about how "good guys with guns" will save us from the bad guys who have them. An argument is made to arm more people, not fewer. Then, when those avenues are exhausted, The Second Amendment gets mentioned with a reverence that isn't even remotely given to any other part of the Constitution.
But even all of that doesn't matter. Here's what matters:
Americans want guns.
Americans want for guns has always outweighed their need for them...and all arguments against them. Fewer guns equals fewer gun deaths? Americans still want guns. Safer ways to protect your home from invasion? Americans still want guns. The nations with the strictest gun laws have far less gun violence? Americans still want guns.
For anything to change in America, it's going to take the amount of people who do not want guns to outweigh the amount who do want them, which isn't going to happen anytime soon. Even though gun ownership is on the decline (while gun stockpiling is on the rise), all polling shows that even Americans who don't own guns still want the right to do so if they choose. Americans polled also say they want stricter gun laws, and yet they never approve of any that are proposed. That want for guns --and lack of interest in serious laws against them -- is what won this battle for the pro-gun lobby a long time ago. The opposition is vocal but virtually powerless against that want.
So, America will mourn for a while. But then it will likely change nothing...or very little. And then perhaps another senseless shooting will occur and this argument will repeat. That's been the trend, it seems. But if 20 children being gunned down wasn't enough to change people's minds, don't think much else will do it, either. This debate -- sadly -- is already over and the pro-gun side already won.
Ward Anderson is co-host of talk radio show "Ward & Al", heard weekdays on SiriusXM's Canada Talks channel 167. He is also a standup comic and the author of two novels, available wherever books are sold.
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