By Matthew Rothschild on January 16, 2013

Pres. Obama came out with some sensible proposals on gun violence today.

By advocating reinstituting a ban on semi-automatic weapons and establishing a ban on high-capacity magazines, he would at least make it more difficult for mass killers such as we saw in Aurora or at Sandy Hook.

Some of his other ideas are welcome, as well, like getting armor-piercing bullets off the street, and increasing mental health services.

But not only do we need to increase mental health services; we also need a national public awareness campaign on suicide warning signs.

Let's be real here: Of the 31,000 people killed by guns in the United States in 2010, 19,000 of them were suicides. So let's work seriously on suicide prevention.

I also doubt this assertion by the White House: "The single most important thing we can do to prevent gun violence and mass shootings, like the one in Newtown, is to make sure those who would commit acts of violence cannot get access to guns."

Is that "the single most important thing"?

I'd hazard a guess that, other than bolstering suicide prevention efforts, the single most important thing we can do is to end the war on drugs.

By legalizing or decriminalizing drugs, the rampant gun violence that is plaguing places like Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee, New Orleans, and Oakland would go way down. (And those involved in the violent gun trade will manage to get a hold of firearms somehow, even with bans and increased registration efforts in place.)

While we're at it, we also might try solving the problem of poverty, which is closely associated with the problem of gun violence.

"Poverty is a substantial factor in gun deaths" in metro areas, according to a recent report by the Atlantic Cities.

Yes, it's easier to place more cops in schools, which Obama now advocates, than it is to end the war on drugs or tackle poverty. (And Obama's willingness to place more cops in school puts the lie to the hideous NRA ad about Obama carrying more about his kids, who have armed guards at their school, then everyone else's kids.)

But we're kidding ourselves if we think Obama's efforts are going to make a big dent in gun violence.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Banning Semi-Automatic Weapons Is Not Enough."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

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A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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