Geographically, the Doldrums are located in the ocean near the equator. They are the places where the prevailing winds are calm and the sailors can become desperate for change and movement.
We are in the firearms doldrums. That does not mean that we are safe from the shooting. It just means that many of us have not yet been hit, while around us the shooting continues. Judges and politicians have becalmed us in hostile waters, ignoring the consequences of their refusal to let states and individual communities ban many types of weapons and regulate their sale.
We believe this willful ignorance destroys lives and communities. A firearm in the home or on the street protects less than it harms.
Fareed Zakaria in his weekly television broadcast on Aug. 2 reported that this year there were 207 mass shootings in 207 days of 2015. That was also reported in Elite Daily and the mass shooting tracker website (shootingtracker.com). This information leaves for others to count the bodies in one-on-one shootings, left daily on streets and in alleys and – homes.
We realize that there are a lot of complications when one delves into motives and explanations behind a shooting: rage, desperation, jealousy, addiction, poverty, pride and, in some cases, mental illness. But the primary cause of any shooting is a gun.
The culture of fear fostered by many politicians and media darlings feeds on itself, with the result that for far too many, a gun is the simple antidote. Let the bodies of the dead and injured speak to that notion.
In a curious leap of reasoning in the 2008 decision in Heller v. D.C., Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said the members of any “well-regulated militia” doubtless kept their firearms at home, and thus most people should be able to keep guns in their homes. The Heller decision, with which we – and prior Supreme Courts – disagree, allows states to impose some restrictions on the sale of guns and the types of guns sold.
But craven politicians have failed to make full use of these limitations to regulate the sale and use of firearms. Gun shows still offer quick and easy sales to almost all comers, as only one blatant example.
The City of Evanston, public schools and the Evanston community made progress against this pernicious tide, coaxing youth from street life to job training and jobs and providing academic and social supports. And the City has passed some ordinances, regulating the sale and use of firearms as best it can in the face of the Heller decision and the State’s concealed-carry law.
Evanston is not alone in trying to steer away from this casual attitude toward the potential and actual destruction caused by loosening the restraints on firearms ownership.
But our country as a whole has drifted into the Doldrums by allowing wrongheaded politicians and deep-pocketed organizations to drive it off course. With the campaign season heating up, is it too much to hope for a rational discussion of gun laws?