On 9/11, Islam jihadists turned four U.S. airlines into weapons of mass destruction and killed almost 3,000 people. Within a month the George W. Bush administration had convinced themselves, and much of America, that Iraq, while not the source of the 9/11 attacks, nevertheless was holding "weapons of mass destruction" intended for America, and he launched the United States' first unprovoked war against a foreign nation in our history. Within weeks his administration established the Patriot Act, giving his government wide-ranging powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps (parts of which were recently extended under the Obama Administration).
Since then, trillions upon trillions of dollars have been spent on "counter-terrorism" efforts. An alphabet soup of governmental agencies have come (TSA, DNI, DHS, NCTC, CVE, NSI, ICE, NCC) and gone (TTIC, INS). NSA, the government's eavesdropping agency, is building a $2 billion facility in Utah capable of capturing trillions of emails, web searches and business transactions. A second, similar unit is to be built in San Antonio. Our defense budget has doubled in the last decade. And our government now deploys more tools than ever to monitor its citizens -- to prevent another attack.
U.S. air travelers are subjected to heightened security scrutiny -- required to remove belts, hats, jackets; discard water bottles; gather remaining 3-ounces-or-less containers of liquid into separate bags for screening; random full-body scans; required to place computers, cell phones, Kindles and iPads in separate trays, et al. A failed shoe bomber prompted an additional requirement to remove our shoes, pre-screening. It's a wonder the failed underwear bomber didn't provoke further scrutiny, because some of this has reached ridiculous stages: In Florida a couple of years ago, a gravely ill, 95-year-old woman was forced to remove her wet diaper before she could pass security.
Airplanes have been fitted with hardened, more secure cockpit doors. Thousands of air marshals are now assigned to random flights to guard against terrorists who might somehow manage to get through all of this intensified screening. The no-fly list has expanded exponentially; public buildings now have sign-in requirements and require deliveries to be left at the lobby desk; our borders have been made more secure; federal funds were set aside to enable the number of border patrol personnel to be tripled.
As a result of all of these pro-active measures, or in spite of it all, only four people have been killed by terrorists on U.S. soil since 9/11 -- the recent Boston Marathon victims. That same day, 11 Americans were murdered by guns. And by the time the manhunt for the Boston Marathon terrorists ended, 38 more Americans had died by gunfire. Not to minimize these unfortunate deaths, but according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more Americans will be crushed to death by falling televisions and furniture this year than die at the hand of terrorists
In the same span of time since 9/11, over 300,000 people have died in America as a result of gunfire: 300,000 versus four.
And yet not one single action has been taken in that same time to address gun violence in America.
What's wrong with this picture? Everything.
Despite the fact that fully one-half of all U.S. deaths by guns are suicide, our Congress recently failed to pass a modest background check law -- a procedure that could conceivably help identify potential victims. A recent New Hampshire study showed that nearly 10 percent of gun-related suicides in that state were committed with a gun purchased within a week of the suicide -- and yet our Congress refuses to consider a minimum waiting period to purchase a gun.
Despite the near-rabid claims of second amendment rights to own a gun -- for the purposes of self defense -- "a gun in the home a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense. Most unintentional shooting deaths occur in the home (65 percent), based on data from 16 states. The most common context of the death (30 percent) was playing with the gun. According to USA Today, "in 2011, 14,675 people were wounded in an unintentional shooting but survived."
Enforce current laws? About 58 percent of federally licensed firearms dealers have not been inspected by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the past five years, according to a report from the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General.
The number of U.S. gun dealers has increased by 16 percent since 2004 -- and now number a staggering 130,000 as of Aug. 1. No wonder. Gun sales are skyrocketing. ABC News notes: "According to ATF reports, in 2010 there were 5,459,240 new firearms manufactured in the United States, nearly all (95 percent) for the U.S. market. An additional 3,252,404 firearms were imported to the United States. That's nearly 8.5 million new firearms on the street in one year."
This is particularly true of the AR-15 -- the most popular gun in the United States, with an estimated four million of them in the hands of U.S. gun owners. A genuine weapon of mass destruction designed for one purpose: to inflict mass casualties. And yet Congress allowed the assault weapons ban to expire and shows no interest in reinstating it.
Not one single action to address the gun violence in America, Not one.
Here's a thought: Let's label gun deaths in America for what they really are -- domestic terrorism. And then let's address reasonable, constitutional, democratic measures to exercise some minimum restrictions on their sale.
300,000 versus four. No contest.