That doesn't mean the bill is bad, or that we shouldn't at least try to curb gun violence. It just means the problem is deeper than we can currently address with laws alone. I don't agree with Peter's conclusion that the Senate bill will lull the citizenry into a false sense of security. I give people a lot more credit for understanding what we're up against. They see the guns; they hear bitter outcry from those who feel, incorrectly, that only possession of a gun stands between them and catastrophe of one sort or another. Those arguments are indefensible as bodies from gun deaths continue to pile up -- 3,370 since the Newtown massacre, and counting. But few, including me, have the stomach to follow the arguers into crazyland, the mirror world where the Constitution guarantees a right to overthrow the Constitution; where encouragement of "responsible" gun ownership is a cure for the threat of loose guns "responsible" gun owners have left on the streets; where the proximity of guns to children poses no threat in itself. We here in central New Jersey -- home of some farther flung commuter towns south of New York City -- woke Wednesday to a headline screaming at us in all caps from the front page of the Asbury Park Press: BOY, 6, DIES FROM ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING BY 4-YEAR-OLD FRIEND. I'll spare you the details. Just let that sink in. (Full disclosure: I have a classical music column that runs weekly in the Asbury Park Press.)
The Press hammered the incident, with three related stories taking up most of its front page. One of the articles points out that more children die from guns than from cancer, more kids were hurt by guns in 2010 than soldiers in the war in Afghanistan. Four-year-old boy. Playing with a .22 rifle in a truck and shot his friend, 6, dead.
There are laws on the books -- largely unenforced, as the Press points out -- to punish owners who allow children access to guns. Punishment after the fact certainly wouldn't bring much consolation to anyone in this case, if it ever does.