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 6:10 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
updated 8:11 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
updated 3:57 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
updated 4:51 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
updated 2:25 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
updated 7:44 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
updated 6:29 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
updated 8:34 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
updated 3:12 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
updated 10:13 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
updated 5:56 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
updated 3:11 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
updated 8:45 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
updated 10:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
updated 12:59 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
updated 9:58 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
updated 4:41 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
updated 8:21 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
updated 7:16 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
updated 11:07 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT