WASHINGTON ― North Korea is back to test-firing long-range projectiles while experts wonder if they’re really ballistic missiles.
Kim Jong-un will have to try much harder, however, if he hopes to convince anyone he’s about to order an attack on American forces in South Korea, much less targets in the United States. The fact is we face a much more immediate danger — that of anyone with a pistol or rifle firing into a crowd.
No, the shooter has no chance of escaping, but he can kill or wound people while Americans again debate the constitutional if not the sacred right to own a weapon. In the latest shooting, one student was killed and others injured in an elite high school in Colorado. That was a week after two university students were killed and several wounded in North Carolina.
No, Kim Jong-un is not America’s most dangerous enemy. He’s far from likely to go around killing anyone, not counting those tied to posts and shot by firing squads in his own country for failing to do his bidding or badmouthing his regime. Americans can rest easy as far as the threat from North Korea is concerned.
As the terrifying sounds of gunfire echo time and again around the United States, it’s obvious that Americans are their own worst enemies. We can muster all the sophisticated weaponry needed to counter a serious challenge from North Korea, but we seem helpless in the face of random attacks by our own citizens shooting up other Americans.
Politicos are so afraid of the power of gun lobbyists, led by the dreaded National Rifle Association, that Congress and state legislatures dare not outlaw possession of weapons. Rapid-firing assault rifles such as those used by soldiers around the world may not be absolutely legal but are easily obtained by those who want them.
In the midst of the uproar, some idiots believe that teachers should now have pistols in their desks to counter obstreperous students who might be hell bent on killing someone. This idea is ridiculous, however, when you consider how quickly any nut with a gun can blast away before a nearby teacher has a moment to reach for his or her pistol.
Keep up the demand for self-defensive weapons, and pretty soon Americans will routinely be walking around with pistols bulging in their belts, ready to annihilate suspected shooters, whether they’ve opened fire or not. The prospect of shootouts in drunken brawls, impassioned debates, revenge grudges and fits of road rage is all too real.
The old self-defense line is common. In a number of U.S. states, “stand-your-ground” laws give Americans the right to fire away when threatened. The point at which a threat merits opening fire is widely debated. The line between aggressive assault and self-defense is blurred, and who’s to know whose story or explanation is right.
No one believes in the right to self-defense more than Kim Jong-un. That’s the rationale he asserts for clinging to his nuclear arsenal and the missiles needed to send warheads to distant targets.
Pro-northers defend him, saying he decided to test-fire sophisticated new weaponry only after the United States tested a missile designed to counter one of his intercontinental ballistic models. As if the United States did not have the right to shoot down a warhead hurtling toward American soil!
But such talk is abstract, theoretical.
The hard truth is that more than 40,000 Americans were killed by gunfire last year. The figure includes individual murders, suicides, accidents, everything, about as many as died in motor vehicle accidents in the same period.
Nobody’s seriously expecting Kim Jong-un to order a mass killing of innocent people other than victims of his own gulag system. It’s hard to imagine his forces annihilating thousands with those missiles and warheads that he refuses to give up.
Americans face a vastly greater threat from other Americans ― a reminder of the old Pogo cartoon line, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”