This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.
The sad, impromptu memorials of flowers, teddy bears and other mementos keep piling up: In the driveway of a Palmetto Country Club Estates home, where the bodies of Pablo and Marie Joy Amador and their two daughters, Priscila and Rosa, were found after a bloody murder–suicide. Outside a duplex near Coral Gables, where Guillermo Lopez gunned down his estranged wife, her daughter, grandmother and boyfriend and then later killed himself. Hardly a week goes by anymore without another grim story of a jealous, enraged man shooting his wife or girlfriend before turning the gun on himself.
The carnage isn't just a local phenomenon. In a mobile–home park in Graham, Wash., neighbors are leaving tributes to the five children shot to death Saturday by their father after their mother said she was leaving him.
Domestic disputes account for many of the recent shootings, but not all. One of the worst mass shootings in recent memory occurred last week in Binghamton, N.Y. A Vietnamese immigrant went on a rampage in an immigration–services center there, killing 13 people before turning the gun on himself. In Pittsburgh on Saturday, a domestic–dispute call escalated into a four–hour siege before a gunman who ambushed and killed three police officers surrendered.
What is happening to us? Why must so many innocent people in this country die of gunshot wounds every year?
One obvious reason, of course, is the ease with which firearms meant for killing, not hunting game, can be obtained. An ironic footnote in the Pittsburgh siege: The shooter, Richard Poplawski, owned several handguns and an AK–47 assault rifle, apparently all of them legal under U.S. gun laws. But after his surrender, he was charged with, among other violations, possessing an instrument of crime: a bulletproof vest. Think about that for a moment. The vest is illegal; the handguns and AK–47 are not.
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