Lloyd Omdahl: Stopping the slaughter in our schools
We had free access to guns when I was growing up. Common gun sense ruled the country. There was seldom the kind of mass shootings of kids as we see occurring today.
Ironically, the strongest defenders of our killing gun culture are also the same people who allegedly stand for sanctity of life on the abortion question. When guns are involved, sanctity of life goes down the drain.
Most gun owners, from single shot pistols to AR-15s, argue that these are necessary for self-defense. But if you know the figures you will know that more kids are being shot in schools than burglars shot in bedrooms.
In North Dakota, 55% of adult households have guns. Only 15% of adult households in New Jersey have guns compared to Mississippi with 56%. Since New Jersey has fewer guns for self-defense, are more New Jerseyites killed than heavily-armed Mississippians? I think the facts would prove that the self-defense argument is pretty hollow, considering the number of children who have been slaughtered in recent months.
But Eric Hoffer, in his insightful book about “true believers,” says that logic and/or common sense will not change people who are irrational about an issue. The psychological underpinning of gun ownership is the problem, and that would require psychoanalysis to detect.
Even though a majority of North Dakotans own guns, it doesn’t mean that they are “true believers” beyond the reach of common sense. If the abolition and buy-back of all Ar-15s was on the ballot, it would pass.
The Legislature will do nothing about the abuse of guns. As an institution, it can be bought by the National Rifle Association. As individuals, a large majority of legislators have been rated so high by the NRA that there is little hope to change their commitment no matter how many kids are murdered.
In North Dakota electoral history, we find that the Legislature has not always been in tune with the mood of the public. Many referred measures have reversed action of the Legislature. These reversals suggest that they are often representing themselves rather than the constituents who elected them.
It was over the Legislature’s opposition that the ethics commission was created and medical marijuana was approved.
Because the Republican majority will not act on any facet of gun regulation, even the abolition of AR-15s, it is time for the people to put reasonable gun regulations measures on the ballot that most North Dakotans will support.
Killing children should go beyond partisan politics, but Republican legislators have drawn their line in the sand, opening the possibility for the Democrats to go to the electorate with the issue. Since the issue has already been politicized, Democrats would have nothing to lose.
Even if such measures couldn’t muster the votes, the bankrupt NRA would have to pour money into the state out of fear of losing a major fight over guns. Bleeding the NRA would be progress.
A gun debate would also force serious soul-searching by the more radical gun advocates. They would have to reconcile their moral values with their immoral actions, especially if they are professing Christians.
We have become the most killing nation on the earth. Christians can’t just wring their hands. In the Book of Romans, I am told that even if I don’t do any shooting, I am guilty because I have given my consent to evil with my silence.
Life is sacred. Yet we think a gun is more important.
What’s wrong with us?
Lloyd Omdahl is a former state lieutenant governor and professor at UND.