KOKOMO  – Like most Hoosiers, I was shocked and saddened by the senseless murder of eight Indianapolis FedEx employees last week. As a feeling human being it is natural to want something to be done so that an event like this won’t happen again. After all, how can anyone look at the photos of the innocent victims and not hope that their deaths were not in vain. “Please, dear God, do whatever you must do to bring an end to this senseless violence,” we plead. Into this sea of despair enter those who never wish to see a tragedy go unexploited, the liberal gun control lobby.

One of the few certainties of life is that when any event such as the FedEx mass shooting occurs, the parade of politicians, pundits and activists roll out their incessant refrain that only outlawing what they term assault rifles will stop the violence. They are quick to exploit any gun-related headline event to strike a blow against one of your rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. It sometimes seems like these people are happy another shooting occurred.

There is no denying that the American people love their guns. In fact, the best estimate is that there are at least 120 guns for every 100 Americans. That is a lot of guns. It dwarfs the second closest nation, Yemen, by almost a two-to-one margin. The United States is a nation of guns and that is not by accident. It is only due to the fact that American colonists possessed large amounts of rifles for both hunting and maintaining effective militias against possible Indian intrusions that they were able to band together and throw off the repressive yoke of King George III.  

The framers of the United States Constitution, most notably James Madison, believed that the right to keep and bear arms provided the people with a vital safeguard from the threat of an oppressive and well-armed federal government. The 2nd Amendment is not to protect Joe Sixpack’s ability to bang bunnies or drop deer, but to enable Joe to answer the call should his state government issue the call for the militia to come out to confront an out-of-control federal government. Our Founding Fathers loved their freedom and saw government as freedom’s biggest threat.  

Wow! These guys really knew what they were doing.

The typical advocates of gun control normally stress that since people don’t belong to militias anymore and that the Constitution is constantly subject to change, then it is an appropriate and constitutional action on the part of the federal government to ban any type of gun ownership that it would like to do. Make no mistake about it, these people do not believe that the Bill of Rights is inviable. By extension, an assault on the 2nd Amendment is an assault on freedom of speech, religion, the press, assembly and a bunch of other inconvenient enumerated freedoms. While it might seem like a quick fix, to ban guns, in the face of a tragedy such as the FedEx shootings, it is a slippery slope to be sure.

I won’t discuss the constitutional issues of gun control any further. I’ll leave that to the attorneys on both sides of the issue to twist and parse the simple words of the men who crafted our precious rights. Instead, I’ll focus on the impracticality of gun control.

First, there is that nasty fact that there are about 370 million guns floating around this country in the hands of law-abiding citizens, criminals and American psychos. There is no practical way to retrieve those guns in an effective manner. Gun ownership advocates, criminals and American psychos will do their level best to hide any outlawed gun where the sun doesn’t shine. The people who stop at stop signs at 2 a.m. when no other cars are around will most probably comply with a confiscation order, but the serious guns will stay beyond the reach of government and only surface during the commission of criminal acts or in the defense of their homes.

Our government has a lousy track record in enforcing laws where there is a significant economic incentive to violate the law. For instance, just how successful was the United States government in enforcing prohibition? Hint: It wasn’t. The booze still flowed everywhere anyone was thirsty. Liquor was either made in the United States or smuggled into the country from Canada and elsewhere. Crime empires were formed and financed by the explosive growth in prices for the outlawed liquid. Pretty much, prohibition made formerly law-abiding citizens criminals and made serious criminals millionaires. It just couldn’t be controlled or outlawed and finally the federal government surrendered to that fact and made alcohol sales legal once more.

More persistent and yet just as unsuccessful have been our laws against the possession, distribution and use of narcotics. It is the same argument as the one for banning alcohol sales, but this time the massive profits from the illegal trade generally flow south of the border. One could argue that a majority of the murders committed in the United States result from the trafficking in outlawed narcotics. 

If it was possible to outlaw anything, we would see fewer drugs on the street and no one getting killed for a drug deal gone badly. Alas, outlawed drugs bring big prices. Better law enforcement drives up prices further.  High profitability brings the criminals out to play. Any law enforcement officer will tell you that absolutely nothing can be done to control illegal narcotics.

That brings us to our immensely unsuccessful effort to control illegal immigration into our country. Let’s face it, if you can walk a two-year-old and a five-year-old for 500 miles through a blazing hot desert and then drop them 15 feet over a border wall, then you are not going to be able to stop those same people from dropping assault rifles and hand guns over those same walls into the hands of bad men. We learned this reality when the Obama Administration ATF sold guns to Mexican drug traffickers and the guns showed up in Atlanta, Ga., during the commission of felonies.

It is estimated that over 3,000 people die each year from auto accidents caused by distracted drivers using cell phones. Accordingly, most states have outlawed the use of handheld phones while the car is in use. I ask this rhetorical question: How many potential murderers have you seen ignoring this law? Plenty!

I wish that I had a good idea for how we can keep guns out of the hands of criminals and mentally disturbed people without infringing on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, but I do not have a clue what needs to be done. One thing is for certain, anyone who thinks they have a foolproof plan fails to give our Creator credit for allowing the creation of better fools.

My gut feel is that we have a society that is largely broken and out of control. We have a mental health crisis that needs to be addressed. Penalties for the commission of crimes while in possession of a gun should be severe. Issues involving poverty, poor education, and the breakdown of the nuclear family will all need to be addressed. I am not sure that there is enough time nor enough money to successfully deal with this problem.  

It is time that we put the kneejerk political rhetoric aside and work together as a society to tackle gun violence. We owe it to those innocent folks who went to school or to work in pursuit of the American Dream and had their dreams snuffed out by the American Nightmare.  

Dunn is the former Howard County Republican chairman.