[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
In 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was signed into law by President Clinton. The law "sunsetted" 10 years later and never came back. Firearms that had taken a retail "timeout" were back in play. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people went out and legally acquired some serious freedom delivery systems. These weapons remain quite accessible and probably will be so until Charlton Heston retroactively says he was just kidding. What is considered an assault rifle (say, the Colt AR-15) is, at the end of the day, just a rifle and not the only semi-automatic variety on the market.
America enjoys some global-high stats when it comes to death and injury via guns. Hell, America kicks ass in homicide, suicide, traffic fatality and incarceration like no other country.
I am convinced that it's not the guns that make America a sometimes dangerous place to live. As always, it's the people.
Guns, and other things that go boom, have been with America from the beginning. There was not a time when the gun wasn't a major part of life in America, from its founding to the rapid westward expansion and annexation of states.
"Rockets" and "bombs" are mentioned in our national anthem. Immediately after the boring trivialities of basic freedoms -- religion, speech, press, gathering -- are duly noted in the First Amendment of the Constitution, the Second Amendment addresses the right to bear arms. That comes before the right to privacy, due process of law, fair trial by jury, no cruel and unusual punishment, etc.
Some of America's most oft-mentioned historical points have guns involved, from civil wars to assassinations both attempted and realized.
America has glorified and romanticized gun-carrying outlaws since it was rigging elections. Perhaps two of the most notable are Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. After a long crime spree, the two were famously gunned down in Louisiana on May 23, 1934. Their bullet-ridden car has been on display all over America ever since. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty immortalized them on the big screen. It's often glossed over that Bonnie and Clyde were killers of police and citizens. The pair caused a lot of undeserved misery, and they got famous doing it.
I remember seeing the Clint Eastwood big-ass gun classic Dirty Harry with my father on one of our sanctioned Saturday visits. He liked it so much, we stayed and watched it a second time.