Gun violence and social responsibility

Nobody’s going to take your guns away. Realistically, that’s impossible. Government’s not trying to, and nobody in a responsible position is saying it should. There are too many guns and – face facts – too many places to hide them.

House Bill 77, sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, to close the so-called gun show loophole, was limited to sales and distribution. As a practical matter, it would be absurd to think government could disarm our citizens — just as absurd as thinking we could deport 12 million illegal residents or stop all the illegal drugs.

Some news reports talk about a “ban” on certain types of guns, without clarifying what the “ban” bans (dangerously careless reporting, I think). There is no serious proposal to confiscate existing guns, although some gun-rights purists believe all gun-control legislation is a first step down that slippery slope.

House Bill 114, sponsored by Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, proposed to make enforcement of federal gun laws a crime in New Mexico, reflecting the purist doctrine: It’s so essential to stop any attempt to reduce access to guns and ammunition that it’s worth blowing up the relationship between the state and federal governments.

My trusted pro-gun friend, an NRA-certified and state-licensed firearms instructor who supports the purist position, said he would favor a law requiring trigger locks for all firearms, or other means of locking guns so children could not get them.

That wouldn’t have stopped Nehemiah Griego, the Albuquerque teen accused of executing five family members. According to his uncle, former Sen. Eric Griego, the father had deliberately given the boy access to the guns for family protection. How would we enforce a law requiring parents to protect their kids from guns inside their own homes?

Would mental health screening have caught this boy in time? Not likely, if the statements of friends and family can be believed. They describe him as a good kid.

What about violent video games and ever-more-violent TV and movies, often cited as a contributing cause of gun violence? Shall we control them?

In 1992, actor Charlton Heston went to a stockholders’ meeting of Time-Warner Corp. and read aloud, in the ringing tones that a generation knew as the voice of the prophet Moses, the lyrics of a violent and obscene rap song called “Cop Killer,” shocking everybody present, intending to shame the corporation into taking social responsibility for the content of the music it produced.

No matter how you feel about Heston’s role as NRA president, that was a moment of supreme moral courage. He was calling not on government but on corporate leaders to impose standards of civility on their own companies, as if their families lived in the society they were helping to undermine.

Gee, look how effective that was. Are corporations going to curtail the marketing of products that exploit emotions we used to call depraved? These days, not a chance.  Is government going to step into these murky waters with regulations that might be called censorship? Give me a break. I can just see NBC or CBS, owned by too many overlapping conglomerates to keep track of, joining forces with the ACLU to argue in the Supreme Court that restraint of violent corporate “speech” is un-American.

When free speech joins forces with free enterprise, and neither is constrained by social conscience, the predictable results include mass production and widespread distribution of materials that appeal to humans’ most disgusting and dangerous impulses.

Some ancient civilizations ritually murdered a few children now and then to appease their gods. Americans apparently have decided that the occasional random sacrifice of a few children is an acceptable price for our freedoms. I find it appalling.

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