Shocked as we may be by the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, the momentary reaction of anger, shame or remorse still does not deal with the gut issues raised by James von Brunn's murder of the security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns.
Just how was this hate-filled neo-Nazi with a prison record of four to six years able to gain access to the gun that ended Johns' life? Surely, the lax gun laws must have had something to do with it. Von Brunn was under federal observation for years. That should have prevented a convicted felon like him from ever again purchasing a deadly weapon of any caliber. But it didn't and the question is why not?
Von Brunn's hatred of Jews, Blacks, Gays and the Federal government is a singularly important reminder that American society is still under siege, constantly under the threat of hatred and its consequences. Coming immediately after the murder of a respected abortion doctor in Kansas, it is another bizarre example of how individual Americans can unleash their rage to right what they consider wrong by resorting to a gun as their chief weapon of protest.
In April, at least a dozen people were gunned down in an immigration services center in Binghamton, New York. In March, eight people were shot and killed in a health and rehabilitation center North Carolina. The killer would have murdered more innocent victims had a police officer not shot him to end his rampage.
Other killings occurred earlier this year in California, Alabama and Illinois. In a society that is thought to possess effective policing, violent, bizarre behavior unfolded in April 2007 when a single student shot and killed 32 other students and then committed suicide on the campus of Virginia Tech University.
The shocking record of uncontrolled homicides is a national embarrassment that is hardly a record the United States can be proud of. Hiding behind a twisted view of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and backed by the National Rifle Association, gun owners have virtual freedom to hold fellow Americans hostage to a centuries-old madness; the right to bear arms.
The mass murders at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in Killeen, Texas and in San Ysidro, California have not escaped our memories or let us say, they should not have escaped the outrage most citizens felt after the killings occurred.. But the NRA has the money and thereby the persuasive power on Capitol Hill to prevent passage of any legislation that would make America a safer place in which to live.
In some foreign countries where prohibitive gun control laws are in effect, the public is allowed to join organized gun clubs that permit individual enthusiasts to check out weapons for hunting purposes in designated areas.
Until we get over the whacky notion that everyone in America needs a gun for self-defense because police departments are unable to provide it, we are forced to worry about another nut case like James von Brunn lurking in the hallway of a museum, library, school, university or any other public place we normally consider safe.