Commentary: Are we numb to gun violence at this point?

The Sacramento BeeFebruary 25, 2013 


Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton.


According to Slate magazine, there have been nearly 2,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. since 20 children and seven adults were massacred in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence estimates that 13,442 people have been shot in the U.S. in the seven weeks of 2013.

The Twitter feed @GunDeaths posts a tweet without comment on every gun death it becomes aware of. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, there were four entries for Feb 19.

They include: A 34-year-old man killed near a Dallas bar; a 17-year-old male and a 24-year-old man killed in an Orlando, Fla., apartment complex; a young woman in her "20s or early 30s" killed near Indianapolis; and three people murdered in an Orange County shooting spree.

Like other gunmen of late, the Orange County suspect turned the gun on himself as law enforcement closed in on him.

With each incident, you wonder if there is a critical mass of public alarm over gun violence, as many claimed after the Newtown massacre.

Or, are we numb at this point? Even worse – are we resigned that nothing can be done?

On Tuesday, CalPERS, the largest pension fund in the U.S., voted to pull $5 million of investments out of Smith & Wesson and another manufacturer of high-capacity ammunition clips.

This was admittedly a symbolic gesture – a cap pistol aimed at a gun trade measured in hundreds of millions of dollars.

But the gun culture goes beyond money.

A man is sitting in a Santa Clara County jail cell for allegedly making disturbing threats against state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, after he proposed legislation to tighten loopholes in California gun laws.

Yee's legislation targets devices on gun magazines that allow shooters to quickly reload.

As it happens, the suspect who allegedly threatened Yee – Everett Basham – was in possession of assault weapons with detachable magazines, according to the Associated Press.

How much more of a direct correlation do we need between legally obtained, military-style ammunition and the threat to public safety?

What are we arguing about? Why does anyone in the public need such weapons?

Two months after Newtown, the lack of a public consensus on gun control calls into question whether the issue has reached a tipping point in favor of curbing access to dangerous weapons.

You keep hearing politicians say enough is enough, but where is the general public on this issue? Where are law enforcement leaders?

The bodies are piling up, but instead of action, we get lost in arguments over the Second Amendment or the belief that nothing can be done at all.

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