There’s one little problem with the gun bill being debated in Congress. I’m not sure it has anything to do with guns. It does have a lot to do with community safety and resources for mental health and stuff like that. Which is a good thing, particularly the focus on mental illness. But guns?  I’m not so sure.

              In fact, the only specific gun issue which has been mentioned so far is the idea that anyone who wants to buy a semi-automatic rifle like an AR-15, would have to be 21 years old and go through a mor detailed background check.

              Now this provision was obviously inserted in the bill because several of the most recent mass shootings – Uvalde, Buffalo – were committed by kids who were not yet 21 years old.  But does this mean that young men under 21 years old are a particularly serious threat to go out, pony up a thousand bucks or so and go home with an AR-15?

              The kid who killed all those other kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School was 20 years old but used his mother’s gun. The young man who shot 12 people at the movie theater in Aurora, CO and wounded another 70 was 25 years old. And the shooter who rampaged through a building at Virginia Tech in 2007 was 23 years old but – oops – he used a Glock handgun to kill 32 students and staff.

              So why all this attention being paid to assault rifles when someone with a handgun can commit just as many murders in a few minutes’ time? I’ll tell you why.  Because the United States is the only country in the entire world which gives law-abiding residents to guns that were not only designed specifically as military weapons but are still carried by troops in the field.

              Bot only am I talking about the AR-15 rifle, but the same can be said about the handguns which are involved in most of the nearly 100,000 intentional gun assaults which occur in the United States every year.

              Where do you think the Glock pistol came from?  It was designed by Gaston Glock in response to an RFP issued by the Austrian military.  Where do you think Sig pistols come from? And as for all those pistols designed and manufactured by Smith & Wesson, their provenance was the handgun design shop at 1600 Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield, MA when S&W got serious in the 1i990’s about trying to take the police market back from Glock.

              Wait a minute, you say. You can’t keep Americans from buying those assault rifles and hi-capacity, semi-automatic pistols.  We have a ‘right’ to buy and own those guns. That’s what the 2nd Amendment says.

              In fact (note the use of the word ‘fact’), the 2nd Amendment says nothing of the kind. The 2nd Amendment says that Americans can ‘keep and bear arms,’ but it doesn’t define the word ‘arms.’ And when my late friend Tony Scalia wrote his 2008 opinion to explain what the 2nd Amendment really meant, he made a point of saying that it did not embody Constitutional of any kind for what he referred to as ‘weapons of war,’ which happen to be a pretty good description of guns made by companies like Glock, Sig, and S&W which are used not to kill Bambi but are used to kill people like you and me.

              And while we’re at it, let’s not indulge in all that nonsense about how a gun is a self-defense tool or device or whatever other word Gun-nut Nation uses to avoid using the word ‘gun.’ Because what’s a defensive act of violence happens to be an offensive act of violence to someone else. And in case you think I’m just being contrary to prove a point, spend a little time reading the research on homicide done by Ira Wolfgang where he discusses how half the murders committed in Philadelphia occurred because the victim first assaulted the perpetrator, and the other half occurred because the guy who killed the other guy couldn’t keep his mouth and/or his hands to himself.

              The gun bill being debated in Congress will provide money for programs we need, in particular programs which might make it easier for everyone to access resources for mental health. But as long as both sides of the gun debate hold their discussions within a context which has little, if anything to do with how to get all those military-style guns off the street, this new law will effectively do what the previous gun laws have done, to quote Grandpa: ‘gurnisht helfen’ (read: nothing at all.)