The ONLY Way to End Gun Violence in America

The ONLY Way to End Gun Violence in America

© David Burton 2018

Gun Violence in America

     So we once again have another mass shooting in America. On Saturday morning, 27 October 2018, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs and armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and at least three handguns opened fire inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing at least 11 congregants and wounding four police officers and two others.[1]

     The Pittsburgh synagogue massacre occurred on a Saturday. The following Monday evening, I attended a Hebrew language class that I have been taking for the past decade. The class was held in a synagogue in Lexington, Massachusetts and let out at 9:00 p.m. As I left the building, I noticed a Lexington police car at the synagogue entrance, obviously located there in response to the Pittsburgh attack. It literally brought tears to my eyes. What has this country become when we need police protection to visit a house of worship? What has happened here in the U.S. when our politicians propose placing armed guards in our schools? What is it saying when our citizens cannot attend an outdoor concert without the fear of being raked by automatic gunfire? Why can’t we go to a nightclub without fearing that a shooter will come into the club and kill some 49 people and wound 53 others? What this all tells us is that we are rapidly losing the battle against gun violence. The lunatics, the fanatics and the malcontents are winning and the vast majority of honorable and law-abiding American citizens are losing. America is rapidly marching toward a society in which all doors to public buildings will be locked with armed guards stationed inside, one in which every citizen will go to a public venue, fearing that he/she will become another victim of gun violence. That is not the America in which I wish to live!

     Once again, following the synagogue shooting, there has been an outpouring of sympathy and platitudes from politicians, accompanied by phony tears and breast-beating. But, as usual, no politician has the intestinal fortitude or the desire to identify the only practical solution and to initiate the process of implementing that solution. And what is that solution? THE ONLY REALISTIC WAY TO END GUN VIOLENCE IN AMERICA IS TO GET RID OF THE GUNS! The solution consists of three steps: 1) Repeal the second amendment to the Constitution, 2) Ban the possession of all guns except by law enforcement, the military and those who need guns to protect the public, i.e., security guards and similar individuals and, 3) Severely punish anyone who illegally possesses or traffics guns. Increased background checks and refusing to issue gun permits to the mentally unstable is nothing but a sick joke, designed to give politicians the appearance of taking action while actually doing nothing!

     “Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, spiritual leader of the Tree of Life Synagogue, where the horrific shooting took place . . . {had months earlier} railed against political leaders for not legislating stronger gun control laws.
     In a blog on the synagogue’s website dated July 19, Rabbi Myers wrote, ‘Despite continuous calls for sensible gun control and mental health care, our elected leaders in Washington knew that it [calls for gun control in the wake of the Parkland school shooting] would fade away in time.’ [Emphasis mine] (Ref. 2)

     Unfortunately, the Rabbi’s prediction was 100% accurate!

     “It’s tragic . . . but this is the clear pattern . . . A horrific tragedy happens. There are calls for action. Maybe something gets introduced in Congress. The debate goes back and forth for a bit. Then people move on — usually after a week or two. And so there’s eventually another shooting.
     “. . {Reporters} do the same thing every single time {they} get news of a mass shooting: verify reports, write a ‘what we know’ article, and then begin to update {their} old pieces on guns. {They} do this almost instinctively at this point — . . . No one should get used to this.
      - - -
     “ ‘Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this, we call BS,’ . . . a student survivor {of a mass school shooting} said in a speech at a gun control rally that went viral.‘They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. … They say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS.’
      - - -
     “The US is unique in two key — and related — ways when it comes to guns: It has way more gun deaths than other developed nations, and it has far more guns than any other country in the world. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “The US also has by far the highest number of privately owned guns in the world. Estimated in 2007, the number of civilian-owned firearms in the US was 88.8 guns per 100 people, meaning there was almost one privately owned gun per American and more than one per American adult. The world’s second-ranked country was Yemen, a quasi-failed state torn by civil war, where there were 54.8 guns per 100 people.
      - - -
     “The problem . . . is guns — and America’s abundance of them. [Emphasis mine]
      - - -
     “{The major obstacle to solving the gun problem} is the Second Amendment. . . [Emphasis mine]
     “So the US, for political, cultural, and legal reasons, {has been} unable to take the action that it really needs.” (Ref. 3)

     “Where do we start to end gun violence and mass shootings in America? We start by repealing the second amendment to the Constitution! Every time there is an attempt to institute meaningful gun control legislation and to end or, at least, to reduce the number of gun deaths, injuries and mass shootings, the gun owners, the gun lobby, and the plain gun nuts invoke the 2nd amendment, as if it was some law engraved on tablets of stone that was handed down from God and which is immutable, sacred and unchangeable. It’s time to refute such argument! The 2nd amendment is no such thing! It is simply an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. . . . Also, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Constitution was designed to be amended, i.e., changed, and that amendments to the Constitution can and have been repealed. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not sacred and it is not sacrosanct – it can be changed and it can be repealed! The time has now arrived when it must be repealed!
     “The number of shootings, gun deaths, and gun injuries in America has reached epidemic proportions. All attempts to get this epidemic under control have been stymied by the gun owners and their lobbies – primarily the National Rifle Association (NRA) – and the politicians who pander to them and garner financial support from them or are gun advocates themselves. These gun advocates trot out the now tiresome canard that the 2nd amendment gives all Americans the God-given right to own and use guns, no matter the consequences. Enough!(Ref. 4)

     Next, we get rid of the guns. We collect and destroy most of the guns out there and we severely restrict the number of guns legally available to those needed to protect and defend the citizenry, valuables and resources of our nation. There simply has to be an urgent need to possess a gun. Target practice, hunting, and the thrill of owning a deadly weapon should no longer justify the possession of this deadly weapon.

     It’s now more than 17 years since the Columbine school shootings and 5-plus years since the Sandy Hook school shootings. The Florida school shooting this year was America’s 18th school shooting in the 1st month-and-a-half of 2018. “By the reckoning of the Gun Violence Archive, the killing in Florida was the country’s 1,607th mass shooting since Sandy Hook. In other words, America has had more than one mass shooting every day since then, costing 1,846 lives. On top of these school shootings, there have been numerous mass shootings over the years - the Las Vegas shooting last year being the worst. Now, we have the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. And all the while, the politicians, the NRA and the gun nuts tell us not to rush to judgement, to study the problem to death and to obediently follow the Divine Word of the Second Amendment to U.S. Constitution![5]

     It must be obvious to any thinking American that pinprick approaches to solving America’s gun violence problem have not worked, are not working and will not work. All the background checks in the world will not stop the gun massacres. Al the legislation supposedly limiting the types of guns allowed is nothing but a farce and an attempt to distract us from generating a realistic and meaningful solution. Our politicians have done absolutely nothing to stop the rash of shootings in America!

     It was reported at the end of 2015 that, “. . . Congress hasn’t passed a single piece of gun control legislation, beyond voting in 2013 to renew an expiring ban on plastic firearms, which could potentially bypass security checkpoints at airports and other locations. Most recently, Senate lawmakers worked to block a package of gun violence legislation, including a measure to bar individuals on terror watch lists from purchasing firearms.” (Ref. 6)

     Following the Las Vegas mas shooting, there was a frenzy to enact legislation outlawing bump stocks on semi-automatic weapons. So, exactly how many school shootings have involved guns with bump stocks? Answer: ZERO! How many mass shootings have involved guns with bump stocks? Answer: ONE! The bump stock controversy is simply another red herring being thrown out to confuse and distract from the real issue – that of reducing the number of guns in the hands of would be mass killers! The real questions needing answers are: how many school shootings have involved guns? Answer: ALL OF THEM! And, how many mass shootings have involved guns? Answer: ALL OF THEM!(Ref. 6)

     After this most recent mass shooting in the Pittsburgh synagogue, “Why, then, are we once again sending our ‘thoughts and prayers’ after a mass killing involving an assault weapon? . . .
     “For evil to succeed, all it needs is our continued ‘thoughts and prayers’ instead of meaningful action to let our local representatives know how we feel.” (Ref. 7)

     And the National Rifle Association(NRA) is unquestionably the biggest roadblock to ending gun violence in America. “What is abundantly clear is that meaningful action to end gun violence has been continually and effectively sidetracked by gun enthusiasts with smokescreens, red herrings and the inevitable reliance on the claim that any-and-all steps to control access to guns is prohibited by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Instead, potentially effective action is sidetracked with halting and ineffectual ‘baby steps’ and groveling appeasement of the pro-gun lobby with more of the ‘same old, same old’. According to the NRA, instead of dramatically reducing the number of guns in the United States, we need to put more guns on the streets of America by arming teachers. Unbelievably, we have elected officials who go along with the NRA proposal.” (Ref. 7)

     After a mass shooting like the one at the Pittsburgh synagogue, politicians who should be leading the fight against gun violence, instead, offer condolences and prayers, observe moments of silence and order flags flown at half-staff. But afterward, legislative efforts are deferred and ultimately derailed. Invariably, the refrain is: "not now, later; There will be a time and place for a political debate, but not now. Now is the time for us to mourn and unite as a country." But, the time for political debate and meaningful action never comes. It’s always the same old story – "now is not the time, later." When it comes to guns, it’s invariably business as usual![7]

     True to form, President Donald Trump responded to the shooting in Pittsburgh in the usual politician’s fashion by saying that, “an armed guard could have prevented the tragedy . . .
     “As Trump boarded Air Force 1 heading to Indianapolis, he told reporters he was monitoring the events unfolding near the Tree of Life Synagogue and said ‘something has to be done.’
     “But, Trump rebuffed questions about whether now was the time to examine gun laws.
     " ‘This has little to do with it if you take a look,’
[Emphasis mine] Trump said on gun laws. He continued, explaining armed guard could have prevented the tragedy.” (Ref. 8)

     To those mealy-mouthed politicians who are beholden to the NRA and the gun fanatics throughout America, guns are never the problem, now is not the time to take really meaningful action, and putting more guns on the street by enlisting a new army of armed guards everywhere is the solution. To these gun advocates, their solution is a return to the wild west of the 19th century, where every man totes a six-gun on his hip. To these gun lovers, their solution is to lock up every venue in the United States where more than a dozen people congregate and place an armed guard inside to ward off any potential attackers. Better yet, these American patriots would have the rest of us cower in homes to avoid being shot by some gun-wielding crazy, while they cavort around with their beloved guns shouting that guns are not the problem. That is not the America in which I want to live!

     Repealing the Second Amendment and enacting laws to get rid of the weapons on the streets of America are the first two necessary steps to ending the senseless slaughtering of Americans with firearms. The remaining step is the passage of laws to severely punish all illegal activity associated with the use, possession or trafficking of guns.

     The time has come for the introduction of cruel and unusual punishment for those who chose to ignore the rules of human decency and right of all Americans to live without the constant fear of becoming a victim to someone who has no regard for human life or the rights of others. True, our Bill of Rights (and hence our Constitution) prohibit the imposition of cruel and unusual punishments, but the Constitution can be amended to reflect the necessities of the times. Such has been done in the past.
     What are some of the cruel and unusual punishments that could be considered to penalize those who have no respect for the lives and safety of others? The number and range of severity of such punishments is quite large: hard labor, flogging, hanging (and other forms of slow death), stoning, burning at the stake, being fed to wild animals (as in ancient Rome), etc.
     Many of these forms of punishment would clearly offend modern sensibilities and the bleeding hearts among us. They would rather put up with the blizzard of gun violence now occurring throughout our country. Still, those of us with less tolerant attitudes towards criminals might want to look into some of the less controversial means of getting the enormous number of death-dealing firearms off our streets and out of the hands of those who have no regard of the law. Let’s start by imprisoning anyone caught in the illegal possession of a gun for a mandatory very long period of time. And while imprisoned, let’s make the offender perform hard labor that pays for most, if not all, of his/her incarceration costs.
     We need to tighten up our court system to prevent those illegally possessing a gun, those illegally selling firearms and, most especially, those committing a crime while in the possession of a gun, from getting off with slaps on the wrists. We need to get these offenders into jail before they contribute to the killing and maiming of innocent victims. Judges need more incentives and tools to imprison these contributors to violent gun crimes.
     It’s high time that those enablers of gun crimes pay for their offenses, and pay dearly, in spite of the pleadings of the ACLU and the defense lawyers who make their money by getting criminals off the hook for their misbehavior. Equal rights under the law should apply to those who obey the law and not to those who violate it. The pendulum must swing back to favor the law-abiding and not the law-breaker. Recent history has shown that being kind to the lawless has not led to a reduction in criminal violence.
     Maybe the time has come to return to the days of old - the days of chain gangs, floggings, public executions and so forth. Our recent experience with societal tolerance of bad behavior, criminal coddling, an empathy with offenders rather than with the victims, along with a focus on rehabilitation and an aversion to punishment, has failed to show any significant positive results in reducing violent crime in America. A change is called for if we are ever to see an end to the shooting carnage taking place in America. Severe punishment for criminal activity – that of enabling the presence of guns on the streets of America - is an important part of that change. [9]

     While the 11 deaths at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh will grab all the headlines for the next few weeks or so, let’s not forget that in 2016, the number of firearm-related deaths in the United States totaled more than 38,000, or nearly 105 gun-related deaths every single day! [10]

     Unless and until America decides that getting guns off its street and out of the hands of those who would do us harm supersedes gunowners’ perceived “right to own a gun” and unless and until America simply outlaws their possession, the spate of gun deaths in America will continue to grow. Until the gun fanatics realize that sometimes citizens must give up certain perceived rights in order to benefit society as a whole, the epidemic of mass shootings will continue. Unless and until our politicians stop spouting their blather and rhetoric and get serious about ending gun violence, the death toll from shootings will continue to spiral upward. Unless and until America 1) repeals the second amendment to the Constitution, 2) bans the possession of all guns except by law enforcement, the military and those who need guns to protect the public, and 3) enacts laws to severely punish anyone who illegally possesses or traffics guns, the number of people shot to death in America will continue to grow. America, we have a choice – get rid of guns, or live our lives in constant fear of being gunned down by some criminal or madman. Gun owners, you have a choice – give up your lethal toys and support the elimination of all unnecessary firearms, or be a contributor to the continuing slaughter of your fellow Americans with these increasingly deadly weapons.


  1. Shooting at Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Sarah Blake,, 29 October 2018.
  2. Synagogue rabbi slammed inaction on gun control months before, Michael Graham, World Israel News,
    28 October 2018.
  3. I’ve covered gun violence for years. The solutions aren’t a big mystery., German Lopez, Vox,
    21 February 2018.
  4. When it Comes to Mass Shootings, There are Doers and Then There are Politicians, David Burton,
    Son of Eliyahu; Article 318, 8 March 2018.
  5. America seems unable to solve a scourge that exists nowhere else, The Economist, 17 February 2018.
  6. Here’s A List Of All The Gun Control Laws Congress Has Passed Since Newtown, Nick Wing,
    Huffingtonpost,14 December 2015.
  7. Letter: Meaningful action needed on gun control, Chris Howell, Shannon Walko, David J Young,, 23 February 2018.
  8. Trump says armed guard could have stopped Pittsburgh tragedy, will hold today's MAGA rally, Christal Hayes, USA TODAY , 23 February 2018.
  9. When it Comes to Mass Shootings, There are Doers and Then There are Politicians, David Burton,
    Son of Eliyahu; Article 300, 3 August 2017.
  10. Gun-Related Deaths in America Keep Going Up, Maya Rhodan, Time, 6 November 2017.

  1 November 2018 {Article 339; Suggestions?_14}    
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