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Editorial: Charleston gun horror

Within four days, Charleston suffered three brutal shootings.

First, two gunmen in a car waged a pistol battle with two pedestrians on a far West Side street, wounding a bystander in the arm.

Next, a West Side teen was killed by a salvo of bullets in the face as he sat with friends on his front porch. Three other teens were charged with murder — and one of them told police the killing had been ordered by a Detroit street gang because the targeted youth had “disrespected” the gang. The same suspect also was charged with offering $15,000 for the murder of Charleston detective chief Steve Cooper.

Third, a midtown nightclub bouncer was shot a dozen times as he escorted women to their parked cars. The shooters allegedly were drinkers who had been expelled from the club.

The blitz brought Charleston’s shooting total to nine so far in 2014.

What will West Virginia legislators and leaders do about this upsurge of senseless gun carnage? Probably pass more laws enabling people to walk around with loaded pistols hidden in their pockets, armed to kill. That’s the usual reaction. After the 2012 massacre of Connecticut school tots, West Virginia lawmakers rushed to draft three dozen pro-gun bills. This year, legislators killed Charleston’s gun safety laws and let armed-to-kill people take their pistols into child recreation centers.

In the current election campaign, Republican candidate Vaughn Sizemore supports pistol-carrying so avidly that a supporter, Jeremiah Bolen, wore a holstered gun as he campaigned beside Corridor G. Is West Virginia the only place where campaigners are armed to kill?

A strange air of lunacy hovers over the subject of firearms. Gun advocates seem to declare: Many dangerous people are carrying guns in public, so we must let more people carry pistols to defend against all those who are carrying pistols. Fear of guns spawns more guns.

America has the worst firearms toll among advanced democracies. Around 30,000 die from bullets yearly, counting murders, suicides and accidents. No other modern society has even one-tenth of the U.S. total.

Other countries simply won’t tolerate the level of gun violence that saturates America. But conservative U.S. politicians fear the powerful right-to-bear-arms lobby, blocking every attempt to protect Americans from guns.

Charleston suffered a binge of bearing arms. Only one-third of the calendar year has passed. Nobody can guess how high the 2014 pistol toll will rise.


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