Captives of commerce in a shooting gallery (column) |

Captives of commerce in a shooting gallery (column)

John Young
Special to the Daily

We now know that racist trigger man Dylan Roof should not have been able to purchase a firearm. The FBI’s background check system should have blocked it based on felony drug charges.

To this, a Facebook post announced, “Proof positive that making it harder to purchase guns will not make it harder for criminals to acquire guns.”

Proof? Positive?

All this tragedy proves is that people and institutions can screw up. No revelation. So, well, let’s just not have any criminal laws. Criminals will break them, and agencies will screw up.

That absurd premise aside, the comment bespeaks what we as a society have become relative to our killing machines: captives of commerce.

It’s all about convenience, one-stop shopping. Americans are in a hurry when they buy stuff, and nothing shall hinder that. The Second Amendment is clear: “Congress shall make no law inconveniencing gun buyers or sellers.”

Harlon Carter, one-time president of the National Rifle Association, once told a congressional committee that guns in the hands of felons, drug addicts and the mentally-ill were “the price of freedom.” This was before Congress approved the background checks built into the Brady Bill in 1993.

Bulletin: Congress stands up to the NRA. It ought to happen more than once every century.

I doubt one in 100 Americans agrees with the scary logic employed by the fundamentalists of gun worship. Unfortunately, policymakers remain cowed by that 1 percent.

Erik Larson, who in “Lethal Passage: The Story of a Gun” tracked the purchase of a single firearm used to shoot up a school, says that enough Americans are concerned about the ease of accessibility to firearms to regulate them.

Larson blames an unfortunate term for our inaction: “gun control,” which bespeaks a rather impossible mission in our gun-happy nation.

The term Larson prefers is “rational regulation” of the firearms industry. It makes sense. We regulate industry routinely, whether it pertains to worker safety, consumer safety, public health, environmental protection and more. The fact is that because of the NRA’s clout, the firearms industry remains almost as unfettered as it was when buckskin was business attire.

Right now, a jury is considering the fate of the gunman who shot up an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, killing 12 and wounding 70. The gunman, in the throes of psychosis, had obtained 7,000 rounds of ammunition via the Internet.

Such is the price of freedom.

A bipartisan bill in Congress is making its third attempt to do something about this. The Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act of 2015 would require the federal government to issue licenses to dealers and mandate they report bulk ammo purchases of over 1,000 rounds by “unlicensed persons.”

What an imposition. What would Americans do without the ability to purchase more than 1,000 rounds of ammo with one mouse click? How would they fend off the advancing hordes from south of the border?

Arguments against that bill recall the odd protests in Colorado when, in the wake of the Aurora massacre, the governor signed a bill limiting the size of magazines for firearms.

“How can freedom endure?” rang out the opposition. Imagine, having only 15 rounds before reloading.

This clearly put homeowners at risk when swarmed by a collective of Bloods and Crips, or a cattle truck full of IRS agents. Pity the high-country sportsman bum-rushed by two dozen angry elk. Oh, the humanity.

What is the actual utility of having more than 15 rounds per clip? A winking gun dealer explained it to Larson: It is so that a marksman need not have to reload so often at the firing range.

It’s a sport, a game. Protection? More often than not, it’s play-acting. The tragedy is how many people die — Wednesday-night worshippers, Friday-night movie-goers, Friday-morning grade-schoolers — to guarantee that the pastime is never impeded.

Step right up. Fire away in the American shooting gallery.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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