Despite two tragedies and two scandals of momentous impact there seems little
likelihood that the United States will move to control mail order sale of firearms.
Although the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King paralleled in many respects
the murder of President John F. Kennedy, Congress seems disinclined to believe
that additional firearms control would be a preventative.
There is at this time a bill which would place a federal ban on mail order
sale of firearms by limiting their interstate sale and shipment to federally
licensed dealers. The King murder is said to have changed dramatically the emotional
atmosphere, particularly in Washington, concerning gun controls, yet the course
to be followed remains indistinct.
Under the proposed bill individuals would have to buy handguns, shotguns and
rifles in their state of residence from licensed retailers. But this in no conceivable
way could deter madmen from committing murder.
Certainly there should be some more effective way to prevent the kind of tragedy
which has blackened twice the public image of America. But who is to say that
both of these murders could not have been accomplished in some other way? Firearms,
lethal and dangerous as they may be, are not the sole means to a dastardly deed.
Many a good man has been slain by knife, even a vial of poison. Shooting is
a convenience, yet not an exclusive.
Firearms, nevertheless, should be sold, owned and used under strict regulation,
perhaps involving both state and nation. And firearms sold by mail order firms
should be distributed only under laws governing the sale of firearms in states
to which they are being shipped. Even this is not guarantee that guns will not
be used for illicit purposes.
A more effective means to the desired ends is to legislate control of those
inclined to do evil. But this is no simpler than controlling the weapons they
use. The only way out of the forest of murder and lawlessness is to destroy
the roots of the menace now at large in American society. Two admired, important
and politically influential men have been slain. And for what reason? Merely
because they were admired, important and politically influential. These were
the causes of death. Guns were merely the instruments leading to it.