We are about to invest lots and lots of money and time into an effort to stop the sale of assault weapons, and in the end we will have accomplished little: The number of deaths due to deranged persons committing mass murders with assault weapons is minuscule in comparison with the number of murders committed on our streets every day by old-fashioned handguns.
I'm not saying assault weapons should not be banned. What I am saying is that banning them is another example of an easy answer based on an easy assumption, and easy answers are rarely best answers. When you get bad news and kill the messenger, that's an easy answer. But you still have to face whatever it is that makes the news bad.
For example, we could take a sizable chunk out of the number of deaths involving guns by legalizing drugs. But we'd have to think, and reason, and look for root causes in order to do that -- so it ain't gonna happen. Instead, we'll make the gunmakers richer and the National Rifle Association more powerful by trying to institute gun bans.
One easy answer that always comes up is banning sexy and violent books, movies, videogames and so forth. But that list will not include the Bible, which abounds in murder, torture, incest, slavery, genocide, attempted infanticide, fratricide and some things I'd rather not talk about. It will not include football, hockey, boxing, hunting, skiing, skateboarding and all those other "sports" that leave participants crippled and brain-dead by the score.
We want easy answers that do not force us to reconsider our beliefs -- the kind of answers that are so easy to put on bumper stickers.
PAUL A. ALTER