The gun hearing — perhaps better described as "gun-control" hearing — held by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week was interesting if only because it was held in light of the fact that most gun laws, hundreds if not thousands of them, are not currently enforced and violators are not prosecuted, a fact thoroughly brought out in the hearing.
Also brought out thoroughly was the fact that gun-control laws passed in the 1990s made no difference in the gun violence numbers. A current example of the futility of these laws is Chicago — 500 murders in 2012 and 40 during January, practically all by guns.
The usual partisan split was obvious. Democrats, of course, believe in regulating everything, even to the point of lightbulbs and salt intake by humans. Republicans tend to oppose any further regulation of most things and would gladly dispose of thousands of regulations now in existence.
The panel of witnesses included a police-chief, law-professor, National Rifle Association president and two civilians, one of them being the only woman. It might not have hurt to have had an ex-con or two, who had used guns in crimes, to discuss the subject, maybe furnishing the best possible information concerning the acquisition and use of weapons. That would have likely been too practical for consideration.
The thinking of the regulators goes something like this: "Guns kill people so guns should be banned, just like booze back in the 1920s for a decade or so." The bubbly flowed freely despite the constitutional amendment against it, though if given at least a generation or two it might have actually done some good. Enforcement, of course, was a problem.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, there were 10.8 million motor-vehicle accidents in 2009 involving 33,800 deaths (791 in Kentucky). Should, therefore, there be a ban on the manufacture, sale and use of automobiles?
In those wrecks, 10,086 drivers had a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or above (about 176 in Kentucky), making them legally drunk in most states. Should there be also a ban on the manufacture, sale and use of alcohol?
This is from the Dec. 13, 2011 Autoweek: "'According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents,' said chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman." Does this mean that iPads, iPhones, cellphones, Blackberries, or even car radios should be banned, in addition to booze and cars?
When the president pontificated in Newtown, Conn. after the deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary in December, he left the impression that the deaths were somehow the responsibility of all citizens. That also seemed to be the notion of many of the senators — a horrible and ludicrous position to take, that somehow people in Lexington were at least part of the cause.
The mayor of New York indicated that his city would, or might or should, take action against people perpetrating too much salt intake in food products. Should salt be banned? Diabetes is caused or aggravated by too much sugar intake. Should it be banned? Smokers and obese people are claimed by the experts to place too much strain and expense on health care entities. Should these people be neutralized (euphemism for offed).
Guns do not and never have killed people. Neither have cars, though drunken drivers use them in the same way that a thug uses a Saturday night special to pop off his prey. Drunken drivers, like the thug, are murderers or potential murderers since they understand exactly what they might do — and drive drunk anyway.
There was much said in the hearing about mental-health problems that dispose or predispose toward violence and that some entity has been remiss in not spotting this, as if that could easily be done. Having someone committed or designated as unfit to own a gun is virtually impossible, even if someone knew how to spot potential killers.
Despite the president's executive orders — all 23 of them — and the breast-beating in the hearing, nothing much will be done. People, not guns, kill people.
Jim Clark of Lexington is a retired locomotive engineer.