As politically minded Americans still debate the meaning of, and proper response to, the Sandy Hooks massacre — and as politicians trot out old gun control programs utterly orthogonal to both public-space shootings and the normal violence that has been waning, not waxing, for years — violence around the world still presents a challenge.
In Baquba, Iraq, for instance, a suicide bomb and grenade attack killed over a score of people, and injured about 50 more. This was at a political rally. Very public. And very pointed, no matter how scattershot a bomb might seem.
You know, in terms of shrapnel.
But political unrest in Iraq explodes in even more pointed violence, in a rash of candidate assassinations. Eleven candidates dead in recent weeks.
The resort to violence to get ones way is the chief sign of the breakdown of civilization. The genius of the American constitutional system has been to forgo violence, to allow peaceful exit from, and entry to, a limited set of publicly authorized powers.
But here we get to the problem with the gun control debate: The standard political responses are not constitutional responses.
They are in essence assaults themselves.
These laws and proposed legislation do not recognize the right of people to defend themselves. Whether they enforce ammunition limitations, gun accessory bans (no one needs a 30-bullet magazine), background checks and reporting requirements and trade restrictions, or outright weapons bans (the preferred position of many), the basic idea is not to discriminate on the basis of acts of violence, but forcefully require all to conform, peaceful and violent alike.
But, since those of criminal bent disobey laws as a basic modus operandi, gun control laws tend to serve as a concerted attack on the innocent, not the guilty.
This perversity is the result of wishing problems away with the most obvious instruments at hand, of taking law as automatically self-fulfilling, rather than something that requires threat of violence in and of itself: Police, courts, jails, no-knock raids, and the terrorizing of civilian populations.