CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- How many massacres, how many horrible slaughters of defenseless victims, will it take before America finally acts against the deadly menace of guns in the wrong hands?
What will it take to give U.S. leaders enough courage to stand up against the powerful right-to-bear-arms lobby that terrifies most politicians -- especially in rural zones like West Virginia? How can the lobby keep insisting that every Rambo, macho, weirdo or other unfit person is entitled to hide loaded pistols in his pockets?
Friday's Connecticut horror was every parent's nightmare: innocent grade-school children mowed down in their classrooms.
It was the latest of many such bloodbaths -- 32 victims at Virginia Tech in 2007 -- 13 at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 -- 14 at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999 -- 24 at a Texas cafeteria in 1991 -- 22 at a San Diego McDonald's in 1984 -- etc., etc.
Five months ago, an armed psycho killed a dozen and wounded many more at a Batman movie premiere in Colorado. Eight months ago, a woman-hating oddball bought a pistol, went to a California religious college, and gunned down six women and a man. Earlier this year, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona resigned from Congress because of the head wound she suffered during a different massacre in Tucson in 2011.
Mass shootings make national headlines, but the toll from ordinary killings is much larger. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg notes that America averages 34 gun murders per day, 365 days a year. So far in the new 21st century, more than 150,000 Americans have perished from bullets.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif. -- who once was shot five times by Jonestown cultists, but survived -- said last year that 2.6 million Americans have mental disorders that should prevent them from owning guns, but screening safeguards fail to detect most of them.
How would the gun lobby prevent tragedies like Friday's Connecticut massacre? Its only response is to urge teachers to go armed, so they can shoot back at killers. Would you want your child to attend school under those conditions?America is polluted with so many millions of pistols that it may be impossible to reduce the danger. But elected leaders should try. If the slaughter of grade-school children isn't enough to make them act, we don't know what could.