Stopping the slaughter

Back in 2013, after the massacre of the 6- and 7-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we wrote an editorial titled “No simple solutions.”

In that tome, we implied the problem of mass killings involved not just gun control, but also more investment in dealing with mental health issues, more stringent background checks and studying what effects violent video games and movies have on young minds.

While we still believe a multipronged approach is needed, it has become most apparent that the main problem is that assault weapons simply make it too easy to kill too many human beings in a very short amount of time.

The most shocking statistic we read last week is that in 2014, there were 33,599 gun deaths in the United States. That same year, Japan (a country of 127 million) had six. That is not a typo — Japan had six.

Now, Japan has very strict gun laws. All would-be gun owners have to pass checks of their mental health, and their history is searched for any criminal record. They are tested for drugs and have to attend an all-day class on gun ownership.

Oh, and you can’t buy an assault weapon in Japan.

It is safe to say the United States is never going to reduce its number of gun deaths to Japan’s level. But, it is also safe to assume we are not going to make any significant progress in protecting the innocent until we adopt sensible gun-control laws.

First and foremost of those laws should be the realization that there is no reason for civilians to have weapons capable of firing 45 rounds per minute.

We watched in sadness as Andrew Pollack, a grieving father whose daughter Meadow was one of the 17 killed in Parkland, Fla., told President Donald Trump on Wednesday:

“We’re here because my daughter has no voice — she was murdered last week, and she was taken from us, shot nine times. How many schools, how many children have to get shot? It stops here, with this administration and me, because I’m not going to sleep until it’s fixed.”

For the assault weapon that killed Meadow, those nine shots represented about 15 seconds’ work.

Getting rid of those killing machines is the first step in stopping the slaughter.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.