America is in a crisis, and it needs its conservatives to help end it.

The crisis is mass murder, a peculiarly American disease, that is getting worse. Young men with guns, usually with undiagnosed mental disorders, are going into public places and opening fire on innocent victims.

Last week’s mass murder at Roseburg, Oregon, was shocking news, but hardly unusual. It was the 264th shooting event so far in 2015, with four or more victims. That doesn’t count the “active shooters” who are stopped in mid-rampage by law enforcement before they kill or injure four victims.

Conservatives are not responsible for any of this. Nobody is to blame but the shooters themselves.

But conservatives hold the key to a political process that has been hopelessly deadlocked for years. America needs responsible gun owners, hunters, target shooters and people who want to protect their homes to stand up for reasonable gun control measures, including universal background checks for all gun sales.

We can’t afford another year of the same old arguments.

There is no slippery slope toward gun confiscation created by universal background checks. There is no hidden agenda by the White House to disarm the populace so it can oppress the people.

The president could not confiscate millions of weapons even if he wanted to. It would be impossible. Protecting ourselves from this imaginary danger is exposing us to a real one.

The answer to all these shootings is not more “good guys” with guns. When there are more guns, there are more shootings. Countries with lower rates of gun ownership have lower rates of homicide. States with more gun control laws have fewer incidents of gun violence.

This is true even in a low-crime state like Maine, which has more incidents of gun violence per 100,000 in population than what are often thought of as high-crime states such as New York and California or Washington DC.

And the problem is not simply one of mental health. One in four adults experiences a mental illness in a typical year; one in five youths age 13 to 18 experience a severe mental disorder.

That represent tens of millions of people, and even if every one of them was closely evaluated, there are no reliable tools to predict which ones are dangerous. The vast majority are not.

Our mental health system is woefully underfunded and disorganized. By all means, it deserves more attention. But it is a fantasy to believe that mental health services alone could slow down this kind violence.

And this is not a constitutional issue. Responsible gun control does not violate even a strict reading of the Second Amendment. There are already limits on who can own a gun and what kinds of guns they can own, so it is not an absolute right. No right is. If freedom of the press was killing hundreds of Americans each year, we would stand up for laws that would stop its abuse.

And it’s a mistake to say that anything that wouldn’t have prevented the most recent shooting is not worth doing. No law can keep us completely safe, but a law that could reduce the numbers of attacks is worth trying.

Reasonable conservatives should not stand in the way of modest, sensible reforms that could slow this wave of terror.

America needs to do something about the problem of mass murder, a problem that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the developed world.

America can do it, but not without conservative gun rights advocates doing their part. It’s time for them to stand up.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: