Ronald Reagan must share the blame for the nation's epidemic of gun violence for insisting that "government is the problem." Simple-minded ideologues expanded on his statement, which continued to morph until today, where some Republicans are convinced that government is the enemy of the people. This has done untold damage to a once-healthy democracy and has been catastrophic for intelligent gun regulation. Many arm themselves against a government they view with fear and loathing. The rabid even insist on assembling an arsenal or joining a militia.
Too many have forgotten that government is what we do together and democracy, although hardly perfect, still achieves a justice, freedom and equality no other system can provide. Government's most important function is to protect its citizens, yet because of gun manufacturers, the NRA and Republican legislators, citizens must endure a gun violence epidemic that is out of control. Mass shootings, now far too common, are only the tip of the iceberg.
This is Ronald Reagan's legacy: a reckless, gun-addicted nation and a blindness to the potential of a dynamic democracy where citizens mine the rich possibilities only enlightened government can provide. Government is not the enemy; there is no other center around which a nation's people can unite.
Salt Lake City