CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified Del. Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha, as one of the co-sponsors of the bill.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The slaughter of first-graders in Newtown, Conn., caused most Americans to seek ways to prevent gun massacres -- but, bizarrely, the House Political Subdivisions Committee voted unanimously this week to revoke any local gun safety measures passed by West Virginia communities. That's nuts.
Chairman Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha, said he advanced the measure because "I'm just doing what my people tell me to do."
Others on the 24-member committee include Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, and numerous conservatives from rural counties. The bills 11 sponsors, all Republicans, include Lane and Delegate Joshua Nelson, R-Boone.
Charleston is the only West Virginia city that has attempted to keep guns away from thugs, psychos, drugheads and other undesirables. Mayor Danny Jones said he hopes "wiser heads prevail" and the Legislature kills the proposed law change that would end Charleston's law. He commented:
"You would think the NRA would want to keep a low profile after their national leader made a fool out of himself after Newtown, but I guest this is one place the NRA thinks it can get bills passed."
The philosophy of existentialism contends that humans have a streak of madness that plunges them into wars and other self-damaging, senseless, irrational behavior.
Well, America's daily gun slaughter -- and fanatical opposition to safety efforts -- and the strange craving some have for deadly weapons -- seems proof of that theory. The gun cult's insistence that millions of killing instruments must continue to saturate U.S. society, without any change, is almost nutty.
Two medical professors wrote:
"An estimated 900 Americans were gunned down in the month since the Sandy Hook shooting. They joined a list of more than 300,000 people who have lost their lives to gun violence in the last decade. At the same time, we know that about 300 million people in the United States now own guns ... . A just-released survey provides details on 43 mass shootings in 25 states, saying the shootings have occurred at an average of one per month."
Vice President Joe Biden is touring America, warning that the nation suffers "a Sandy Hook-plus every day" -- meaning more gun murders than the six women and 20 first-graders massacred at Newtown, Conn.
Biden hopes to boost support for President Obama's safety plan -- which would ban military-style assault guns, ban 30-shot rapid-fire clips, require background checks on millions of buyers who now get guns covertly, and expand care of psychotics of the sort who commit most massacres.
We hope the White House succeeds in this attempt to protect U.S. families.
America suffers about 11,000 gun murders per year, averaging more than 30 per day. No other advanced democracy has even one-tenth of this toll, because most other nations have sensible gun controls.
Yet chances for U.S. reform are uncertain, because conservatives feel almost a religious devotion to the right to bear arms. They think that carrying hidden pistols is a sacred right. Some men think it affirms their manhood. This fits the existentialist view about human irrationality, we think.
Presbyterian elder James Atwood wants churches to unite in a crusade against firearm murder. His book, America and its Guns, says:
"Our country started keeping records of gun deaths in 1933. Since then, 1.7 million have died at a gun barrel. More American citizens were killed with guns in the 18-year period between 1979 and 1997 (651,697) than all service men and women killed in battle in all of the U.S. wars since 1775 (650,658)."
As we've said before, the best cure for the slaughter may be development of metal scanners that let police see weapons hidden among throngs of people. Officers could confront each packer and jail those lacking legal permits.
One way or another, America needs to take intelligent action against this country's sickening gun murder toll.