So many dead. So many wounded. So many noble but unrealistic ideas about what to do about it.
It didn’t take long after Orlando for the bumper-sticker thinking to show up again. (It will be a while, maybe a long while, before just saying the word “Orlando” doesn’t automatically conjure what happened over the weekend. The way saying “Columbine” or “Sandy Hook” still summons the demons.)
Get rid of guns! or something to that effect was all the rage, and we mean rage, on Facebook come Monday morning. Sometimes the post would simply ask “When will it all end?” before the nation goes Great Britain on its guns. Or how many have to die, or have we finally learned the lesson, or why can’t we do this simple thing?
It’s a simple question. In more ways than one. There are more guns in the United States than people in it. If the government were somehow to require — tomorrow — that everybody turn their guns in to the government, what percentage do you think would actually do it? Ten? Twenty? Fifty? If 90 percent of all Americans were to turn in their guns tomorrow, that’d leave tens of millions of guns still on the streets. (And, for the record, nobody in government — or running to be in it — is calling for anything like such massive confiscation. And likely won’t. A presidential election season is no time for Big Ideas.)
Magazine size? There are more magazines in this nation than guns. How long, how many hundreds of years, would it take for the ones already in Uncle Bob’s closet to break, or rust, or be lost in a house fire, or be turned in by his grandkids?
Change the Constitution? How, exactly? The Second Amendment isn’t going anywhere. And won’t be. We had a conversation a few months back about this very thing. If every single registered voter in New York state were to vote in favor of some change to the Constitution, Arkansas could offset that vote with 51 percent of the vote here. A small state like Louisiana could counteract California. Mississippi could nullify Illinois. Then you’re just at 50 percent. To change the Constitution, you’d need 3/4 of the states to approve. Folks, do we have that sort of time?
Do we debate changing the Constitution for the next decade, and put up with dozens of more terrorist attacks? Do we spend years trying to pass (mostly ineffective) gun laws through a divided Congress while the enemy plans more Orlandos? Do we debate magazine size while nutcases are filling their trunks with banana clips for the next trip to the movie house, nightclub or school?
The best answer to what’s happening might have been suggested by the senior senator from Arkansas, John Boozman, who usually doesn’t sound this angry. But Orlando was enough to get even the Hon. and honorable John Boozman up in arms, along with the rest of us:
“ISIS and radical Islamic terrorists have repeatedly called on supporters to attack Americans here at home,” he said. “This act of terrorism is an attack on our freedoms. Our country must have the resolve to defeat ISIS. As a country we need to do whatever it takes to destroy ISIS using whatever means possible to protect Americans at home and abroad.”
Well, maybe not whatever means possible, but we think what we know what the good senator meant. He sounded angry, and he was joined by a lot of people, and not just in this country. Some of us got angrier each time the death toll clicked up Sunday afternoon.
The United States must go to the enemy, and defeat him. If we don’t defeat him, and clean him out of his safe places like so many rats out of an attic, he’ll continue to recruit for ops in this country. There’s scarcely a doubt that Americans are weary of war after Iraq and Afghanistan and all these years of fighting. But the enemy doesn’t seem to be tiring. And he’s recruiting. (See San Bernardino.)
We must defeat them. That’s the answer. One-sentence posts on social media may make a body feel good, but such bumper-sticker thinking isn’t going to stop the next terror attack.
Defeat them. Where they live. As hard as it is to do so.