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One nation under guns

Jun 22, 2016

I wasn’t at my university job in Detroit Tuesday, which may have been lucky for me. I normally travel the Lodge Freeway.

About the time I usually come home, somebody ran into another car, and then apparently assaulted the other driver.

When someone stopped to possibly try to help, the first driver started shooting at the good Samaritan, who prudently took off.

Eventually the police arrested the man who was shooting into traffic, and took him out of his car at gunpoint. Police said he had at least five weapons in his car, including handguns and rifles.

Police tried to interview him about his motives, but said “he appears to have mental health issues, which is making it difficult to determine what caused this incident.”

For all we know, he may have been heading to Comerica Park, where the Detroit Tigers were playing last night, to try to take the record for killing people with guns from the Orlando shooter.

... the United States Senate doesn't want to make it any harder for him or any terrorist to get a gun.

We may never know the Lodge Freeway man’s motives, but we do know this: No matter how deranged he was or what he might have done, the United States Senate doesn’t want to make it any harder for him or any terrorist to get a gun.

The day before the freeway shootings, the Senate rejected four proposed timid little gun control amendments, two from each party.

The Democratic bills were ones which any legislature that cared about its citizens should have adopted unanimously.

One would have required background checks for all gun sales, just in case we should ever decide we want to stop violent felons from purchasing weapons of mass destruction. The other would have prevented people on the terror watch list from purchasing firearms.

Most people I asked about this yesterday thought such people were already prevented from buying weapons. They had forgotten that a distorted misunderstanding of the Second Amendment has come to trump all other rights in America.

By the way, the Republicans, who have a majority in both houses of Congress, offered two absurd amendments of their own.

The first would have increased funding to the background check program, while failing to require any new background checks.

This was apparently to give the appearance of doing something while doing nothing.

This was apparently to give the appearance of doing something while doing nothing. The second would have instituted a three-day delay of sorts when someone on the terror watch list tried to buy a gun. They didn’t really propose to deny terrorists the right to buy weapons. But they would have allowed law enforcement to go before a judge and try to “prove” the gun buyer was up to no good.

These amendments also failed. Democrats voted against them, perhaps because they were a total farce.

A few Republicans also voted no, presumably because they feared the wrath of firearms fanatics if they appeared to favor even meaningless gun control legislation.

Naturally, not to make it harder for crazy people and would-be terrorists to kill us is insane, and not what polls show people want. But it is what certain groups who fund political campaigns want.

Which means more mass shootings. Today, we all have the ability to get just about any kind of weapon we want.

What we’ve lost is working representative democracy. I wonder whether we’re satisfied with the trade.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.