Hate prompts someone to murder another. But guns give power to that hate, power and scope. Yes, people can and do kill with their bare hands, with knives and clubs, and rope. But it’s more difficult, and the number of people you can kill without getting caught is significantly reduced.
The shootings in Dallas make all that clear. Hundreds of people in a peaceful protest against the unjust killings of two black men by police were literally outgunned by one shooter, who may have had a few accomplices, with a powerful rifle and a good aim. He took five lives and injured nine others.
Guns turn thugs into tyrants. They are the problem.
Just ask Australia. I’m not the first person to tout this recent study, but it should be touted over and over again. In 1996, the people of Australia, horrified by one particularly egregious mass killing, weren’t cowed by critics who said people were trying to “politicize” a tragedy.
They did something practical and direct: They banned rapid-fire long-guns, including guns that were privately owned at the time. After a phase-in period, if you were caught with a banned gun, you were prosecuted, potentially facing jail time. The government bought the guns back from private owners.
In 2003, the country offered to buy back handguns, and thousands of Australians participated in this program and also voluntarily surrendered other guns that had not been banned. These efforts resulted in Australia ridding itself of one million firearms.
So did Australia turn into a police state, dominated by a crazed autocrat? Hardly. It has a vibrant democracy. Somehow, its citizens have been able to live without the one million guns that were seized or turned in voluntarily.
And since 1996, Australia hasn’t had any more mass shootings.
Yes, I am in favor of confiscating all privately held assault rifles and any other gun powerful enough to inflict mass carnage in a short span of time. I will leave it up to the experts to determine where to draw that line.
I also want all guns to be registered, with registration records computerized and part of a permanent national database. Guns should be taxed heavily. Just as we tax cigarettes heavily because they are dangerous and we want to discourage their use.
The time is long past for most of us to reassure “law-abiding gun owners” and hunters that we only want “common-sense” restrictions.
This problem is way beyond that talk, which failed anyway. I agree with Comedy Central’s Samantha Bee that gun ownership is not a “right” (unless you happen to be part of a well-regulated militia)- it is not essential to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Guns are the problem. That’s what we have to face up to. As Australia did. After one mass shooting. In 1996.
This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post