Some things are predictable, some are not.
Not predictable was Wednesday morning’s attack on Congress members and their staffs assembled for one of the most American of things: baseball practice.
A gunman identified by authorities as James T. Hodgkinson wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others. Police captured the shooter and President Trump later announced that the attacker had died.
It was the first shooting of a member of Congress since the 2011 attack on U.S. Rep Gabby Giffords in the most American of settings: a shopping mall. Six people died, 13 were wounded. The irony (?) is that Giffords was, and is, a gun owner and a supporter of the Second Amendment, and Scalise has a top rating from the NRA.
Those shootings were unpredictable.
What is totally predictable is the coming avalanche of screams for “gun control,” an amorphous phrase. If I cup my hand to my ear, I can begin to hear them now.
When you get down to specifics, such as universal background checks, they are unlikely to happen.
How can I predict that? Because the last time it was tried - the 2013 bill sponsored by Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, it went down to defeat despite the approval of a large majority of Americans.
That relatively mild proposal - supported by this gun-owning columnist with a carry permit - would have aligned national requirements with those of Pennsylvania. It got shot down (pun intended) largely through the efforts of the National Rifle Association.
If the deaths of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook in 2012 didn’t result in legislation, I doubt this will.
The gun-grabbers will blame the gun and call gun violence an epidemic, which it might be in some few areas - looking at you, Chicago - but is largely unknown in the vast majority of counties across the United States. The periodic, and unspeakable, slaughters in our nation are an aberration.
The “gun problem” is a Gordian knot because it entwines rights protected by the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments.
The only way to “ban” guns is to revoke the Second Amendment, and I invite anyone who wants to, to try. It is almost impossible.
Even if you could ban them, will the U.S. government try to confiscate (buy back) the 300 million out there, as was done with legislation addressing the millions of guns in Australia and the United Kingdom?
That could kick off a civil war, given the current political mood.
Guns are enshrined in our culture, but, I admit, the culture is changing. Although more guns are out there, they are in fewer households.
The majority of Americans don’t own guns, but haven’t yet been able to thwart the NRA and get access to what’s called “sensible gun control.” I applaud their efforts, but I think they are futile until the culture changes more.
Once upon a time, cultural change was glacial. But when you see how quickly the culture shifted on gay marriage, for instance, there is optimism that America will be able to get stricter gun laws in the foreseeable future.
But a ban, I think, is still a bridge too far.
Stu Bykofsky is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.