We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gun Control: A Hopeful Development

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords testifying before Congress
In an online news posting entitled, "Senators Discuss Changing Background Checks Bill," reporter Alan Fram observes, "A study by the government's Bureau of Justice Statistics found that gun-related homicides dropped from a peak of 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011, down by over one-third. A report by the private Pew Research Center said gun homicides per 100,000 people fell from 7 in 1993 to 3.6 in 2010, a drop of nearly half. Both reports found nonfatal gun crimes dropped by roughly 70 percent over that period."  This in spite of the laxity of our national gun laws, the NRA's promotion of a gun culture, and all of the talk about 2nd Amendment rights.

These figures are still too high.  We still need to develop a wise policy concerning firearms, one that gets beyond fear mongering and finger pointing.  Otherwise, there will be another Sandy Hook, another Aurora, and another Columbine.  Still, we the public seem to be already taking action ourselves to accomplish what Congress can't seem to do—reduce gun violence.  For whatever reason, when it comes to guns we are behaving better.  That's good.  That's hopeful for the future.  Sooner or later the current gun debate will quiet down again, and even if we can't get the national legislation we need to improve the situation we face today it seems likely that all of the publicity and debate that has taken place since Sandy Hook will itself have a further positive impact.  That is a prayer as well as a reasonable hope for the future.  Amen.