David M. Keranen

David M. Keranen is a retired Bakersfield College mathmatics professor.

Yes, there was another mass killing in the United States. The tragedy in Las Vegas is now the largest mass murder by a deranged individual in our country's history. When are we going to face the fact that the United States is still a sick society?

If our society were healthy, we wouldn't have these recurring mass shootings, thousands of other gun deaths, other types of murders, and gangs roaming around our cities killing each other.

Every year there are dozens or hundreds of mass shootings resulting in four or more people being shot. This year alone there have been over 270 mass shootings; that's almost one a day.

Have we become intellectually numbed, putting our heads in the sand, hoping the problem will go away? When are we going to stop being held hostage by the gun manufacturers, the leaders of the NRA, and the politicians that are bought and paid for?

America's gun control laws are the loosest in the developed world and its rate of gun-related homicide is among the highest. The moment you have guns in society, you will have gun violence, and it's about the quantity of guns throughout the general population. If you have very few guns in society, you will inevitably have low levels of gun violence.

Consider Japan. It's very difficult to own a shotgun or rifle and pistols are forbidden. Japan usually has less that a handful of gun deaths every year and the second lowest gun death rate in the world (lowest: Luxembourg).

Japanese police officers rarely use guns and put much greater emphasis on martial arts — all are expected to become a black belt in judo. They spend more time practicing kendo (fighting with bamboo swords) than learning how to use firearms. Their response to violence is never violence, it's always to de-escalate it. Only six shots were fired by Japanese police nationwide in 2015.

Of course we will probably never have gun laws as strict as Japan's, but we certainly need much stronger control of gun ownership. This includes the type of weapons allowed, registration of all guns, registration of all public and private sales of guns, and background checks of all buyers.

Gun owners do not need to have semiautomatic rifles and pistols, which can be illegally modified to be fully automatic, nor other military type weapons, just as they don't need hand grenades, rocket launchers, and cannons. Legislators — get to work immediately to end this insanity!

David Keranen of Bakersfield is a retired teacher.