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Bite the bullet

Is it not odd how the people of this country have been content to observe the panorama of murder? Perhaps we all are Madame Defarges, just knitting and cackling with delight with the death of every American who succumbs to a crazy man’s bullet. Perhaps it is just our unspoken entertainment, secretly enjoying the cascade of blood. Whatever the reason, mass murder is uniquely American and apparently destined to be part of our national character.

California’s Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom seeks a state initiative to require anyone buying ammunition be required to undergo background checks. The fact that the National Rifle Association will spend millions to defeat it leaves one cynical at the prospect of passage. Besides, ammunition buyers will avoid the issue by buying in other states.

But the focus on bullets is correct. What if the federal government imposed a tax $20 per 9-millimeter bullet and larger handgun cartridges? Police and competitive shooters could be exempted and the police, obviously. For the rich who would pay at least there would be a fund to finance aid for the victims of crazy people with guns. Thus a doc of 50 9-millimeter shells, which sells for around $14, would cost $1,014. This proposal is based on the tobacco model. A pack of smokes that used to cost 22 cents today costs about $7.50, most of it in taxes used to finance anti-smoking programs.

In one of his standup routines, Chris Rock argued to increase the price of bullets to $5,000 each. That fine too, as long as the profits do not reach the retailer or manufacturer.

The best plan is for the federal government to acquire all manufacturers of bullets in the country and to make it illegal to import foreign-made bullets. There would be a great smuggling and black market operation, but this would give the ATF people more to do.

Focus on bullets at least makes the Second Amendment argument irrelevant. But the NRA is of such a nature as to argue that all of us have a right to stand by and watch fellow citizens kill each other en mass. There may be no such right writ anywhere, but it is what we do.

And it is despicable.

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