04/18/2013 08:27 am ET | Updated Jun 18, 2013

Well, People DO Kill People

I have often used what I consider a classic argument in favor of more thorough federal regulation of fire-arms. The "how many gun deaths per country" statistics that I imagine most of you can see in your mind's eyes. The list of other countries that have annual gun-related deaths in the tens or hundreds vs. the U.S. with deaths in the tens of thousands. My spin has been "so... either it is the guns... or people who live in the USA are way more violent than people in other parts of the developed world." It has proven to be a tidy way to make the point that "it's the guns".

Before going further I want to be clear that I continue to believe we need more and better Federal regulation of guns. I believe such laws would significantly reduce gun violence in this country. With a little filibuster reform, a lot of money for political campaigns, even more feet on the ground, and a supportive executive branch, we might even get there between February and July of 2015.

I wonder, however, if that proposition I have offered so many times is as purely rhetorical as I have thought it was. We have a military budget and war capabilities that are at least as proportionately bigger than those same other countries and their gun death rates. None of those countries have the death penalty... we do.

I am not headed for "it's the mental illness we have to work on" conclusion: I think we line up quite evenly with those other countries in that regard. We do have a lot of work to do on understanding, taking the stigma away from, and treating mental illness. I don't think that it has much to do with differential in rates of gun violence.

I don't buy the whole movie/video game/rap argument either. Those are shown and played all over the world. Even if it turns out they are more popular here, it would be due to market demand. Just ask any studio executive -- much as they'd love to manipulate their markets, some action-adventure movies make it, some don't. It is the ticket buyers, kinda like voters, who make or break them in the end.

Geo-politically we see our affinity for violence all the time. We have been at deadly war for a dozen years. For decades, Democrats, especially would-be and actual Presidents, have worked hard at proving that they are just as tough as Republicans when it comes to the neatly framed homeland security and national defense. President Obama and Secretary Clinton are great examples. Taking out the evil guys with drones or arguing that we should make it easier for weapons to reach rebels in the Middle East. They make sure we know what it means when they say "all options are on the table." Maybe they believe it, maybe they think it is an image they need to present to get elected, but it doesn't much matter what that mix is. Tough gals 'n guys are who we agree we want picking up the phone at 3AM.

Fight for more sensible laws regulating firearms we must. We may also need to accept the possibility that we people in the U.S. like to kill each other with guns more than people in many other parts of the world do.

As Walt Kelly's Pogo used to say "We have met the enemy... and he is us.'

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