Skip to main content

Gun debate? What gun debate?

By Mark O'Mara
updated 5:28 PM EDT, Wed June 11, 2014
Friends, family and others hold candles for the victim of a school shooting at a vigil Tuesday, June 10 in Troutdale, Oregon, near Portland. A student shot and killed another student at Reynolds High School before apparently taking his own life, law enforcement sources said. Friends, family and others hold candles for the victim of a school shooting at a vigil Tuesday, June 10 in Troutdale, Oregon, near Portland. A student shot and killed another student at Reynolds High School before apparently taking his own life, law enforcement sources said.
HIDE CAPTION
Shooting at Oregon high school
Shooting at Oregon high school
Shooting at Oregon high school
Shooting at Oregon high school
Shooting at Oregon high school
Shooting at Oregon high school
Shooting at Oregon high school
Shooting at Oregon high school
Shooting at Oregon high school
Shooting at Oregon high school
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mark O'Mara: America appears to have settled its gun debate
  • He says inflexible owners must view school shooting as collateral of "right" to bear arms
  • He says we don't further restrict drinking because of DWI. Have we made that deal on guns?
  • O'Mara: Face it: Restricting guns won't hurt Constitution, cause anarchy; it will protect us

Editor's note: Mark O'Mara is a CNN legal analyst. He is a criminal defense attorney who frequently writes and speaks about issues related to race, guns and self-defense in the context of the American criminal justice system. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- Gun debate? What gun debate? Americans seem to have this settled.

Yes, we witnessed on our TV screens this week yet another parade of children being evacuated from their school — this time in Oregon -- their arms held high to show they were not armed as they fled a 15-year-old shooter who police said took the life of their 14-year-old classmate.

Mark O\'Mara
Mark O'Mara

But Americans, ever more desensitized to the school/mall/navy yard attacks that come, weekly, into their lives, don't seem to want to talk about a gun problem. Americans remain pleased for the general population -- even 15-year-old kids -- to have nearly unfettered access to all manner of firearms, including assault rifles. Even the President seems to have acquiesced. A tweet from @WhiteHouse: "'If public opinion does not demand change in Congress, it will not change.' -- President Obama on legislation to prevent gun violence."

What this means is that we've accepted school shootings and other random mass shootings as a normal part of life in America, no matter how they affect the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness that was first announced in the Declaration of Independence, some 13 years before our oft-quoted Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

I guess that's not surprising: We accept collateral damage for other privileges we enjoy. We tolerate a certain number of drunk driving deaths, more than 10,000 in 2012, and there's little public outcry for greater restrictions. We've been willing to sacrifice nearly 7,000 soldiers (and tens of thousands wounded) in two wars to maintain our political influence in the Middle East. About 400 children drown each year in pools and spas, but we're not scrambling to outlaw summer fun.

Why should guns be any different? In the United States only about 10 people out of every 100,000 are killed by guns, or a little more than 30,000 per year (As a reference, we lost about 60,000 soldiers in the Vietnam War).

This is clearly an acceptable sacrifice to make to maintain our sacred, un-infringed right to bear arms, no?

Police: Shooter and victim not linked
Student recalls Oregon school lockdown
New video shows shooters' last moments

After all, I've been told by some gun-rights advocates that reasonable restrictions on gun ownership will undoubtedly send us down a slippery slope to the abolition of all guns in America. And if we didn't have unfettered access to guns, think about what would happen: We would be overrun by a foreign power; our government would assume totalitarian control and burn the Constitution; and criminal gangs, the only people left with guns, would run roughshod over all law-abiding citizens.

If you suggest, as I have, that we should place reasonable restrictions on guns, then you are clearly a delusional or ignorant pacifist who has been dropped on his head. What part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand? they ask. (For the record, I'm a responsible gun owner.)

I'm confident that in the next few weeks there will be another school shooting. I'm confident because there have been 74 shootings on or around schools or colleges in the year and a half since the Sandy Hook massacre. That's averaging one a week.

I'll repeat: We have a gun problem in this country.

Reasonable restrictions on guns will not lead to totalitarianism and anarchy. Suffering 30,000 gun deaths annually is not a reasonable sacrifice to make in order to blindly maintain our unrestricted gun culture, particularly when the rallying cry is an outdated reference concerning infringement which, known to anyone who has actually studied the Constitution and our founding fathers who drafted it, was a reference to the then-existing reality that young men, when called upon to defend the state and the laws of the state, were expected to provide their own arms.

Listen, reasonable restrictions are necessary to assure the continued viability of our Second Amendment rights, and to curb the unnecessary bloodshed caused by the proliferation of guns into hands of irresponsible people who care little about constitutional rights, and less about the sanctity of life. Like that of a boy in Oregon, who was shot dead.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
updated 12:25 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
updated 12:23 AM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
updated 11:16 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
updated 10:34 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT