WASHINGTON -- There are some 400 million guns in private hands in America. Possibly I exaggerate. Let us say there are only 350 million guns in private hands in America. That still means there are more guns than citizens in America. It is going to take a lot of cops to gather those weapons up. The next time you hear a progressive urging the defunding of police, show him or her these figures. Or how about offering gunowners a tidy sum for their guns? What if the gunowners of America do not want to sell their guns? What if they want to dicker over the price? It is going to take a lot of time and money to buy up all those guns, and allow me to hazard a bet: When the government has finished this project of collecting guns, only the government and the criminals will have guns.
We have now passed a highwater mark on public massacres, and we are still demanding taking guns away from private owners. But there is another solution catching on, attending to mental health. We are about to launch a campaign about mental health. I am not sure where this campaign is going, but I am sure that the do-gooders -- or the virtue flaunters -- will come up with an equally implausible solution to mental health as they have for gun collection. Who is really mentally ill? Does Charlie have a sleep disorder, or is he nuts?
My point is that the problem of gun violence is far deeper than some lunatic armed with a gun and angry as hell. It is that there are parts of America -- a lot of parts of America -- where violence is widespread, and there is not much Americans can do about it. It is getting worse.
Frankly, the killer in Highland Park, Illinois, would have been arrested years ago, given all the disfiguration that he freely submitted to. Yet nowadays, the killer does not look much different than the guy serving coffee at the corner Starbucks. He looked like a freak. He was a freak. But so is the guy working at Starbucks or working at the Hertz counter at the local airport. And if you object to the way he is dressed, or, should I say, the way he is disfigured, the American Civil Liberties Union will take his case. Actually, there are a lot of organizations that will take the case for people who carry on like the freak in Highland Park.
Our entertainments, our classrooms, almost every place Americans go is open to violence and crudity. We see it on the streets, in public places, on television, almost everywhere. Our churches and hospitals appear to be exempt, but 10 or 20 years ago, I found the violence and crudity in an unlikely place, the village library. There some homeless people had found a reading room to congregate at, and there was nothing the librarian could do to mitigate the attendant disruption.
In contemplating the spreading chaos of America, I stumbled upon a fugitive thought that has been nagging at me for years. How did America deal with the "homeless" back in the 1950s and earlier? Most of us are familiar with the cartoons of hobos, so we apparently had the homeless around in days of yore. How did the authorities deal with them? My guess is the cops hurried them along the streets where they were lounging or arrested them. That is probably how our society dealt with a lot of incorrigible misfits, and they never became the problem that they are today. Now they threaten the very stability of our society.
If you want to bring civility to our public places, you can start with our culture. Clean it up. No more coarse language by public persons. Remove the violence from our entertainments. Return manners to public life. The other night, I turned on the news and saw an advertisement for Jeep automobiles. It consisted of dinosaurs traipsing about the streets of an American city threatening the citizenry. In the denouement scene, a huge dinosaur chomped down on a human's head. This was supposed to encourage the viewers to purchase a Jeep? There are some bright spots in our culture. We are a generous people. We are a charitable people. Yet we have 350 million guns in our possession.
Glory to Ukraine!