The Telegraph (N.H.), Sept. 10:

Black lives matter.

Police lives matter.

Lives matter.

Those terms have been thrown around a lot in the past several months, but you know what really matters in this country?

Guns.

From hunting rifles to semiautomatic weapons and shotguns to the hand guns that used to be called Saturday Night Specials, Americans have the right to own them unequivocally and almost unconditionally. It says so in the Constitution.

Ours is a culture that says, “So what if a couple of journalists get slaughtered on live TV? You never heard of Jack Ruby?”

We’re a country that says, “So what if the mentally ill are every bit as entitled to own firearms as the rest of us? This is America.”

Lives matter, sure – just not as much as guns.

How much guns matter can be seen in the fact that, coming up on three years after 20 schoolchildren were slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., this country has not lifted a finger to prevent a recurrence.

The gun lobby – in an effort to ricochet blame for the slaughter – argued at the time that the nation’s lack of comprehensive mental health services were the real culprit behind the Sandy Hook shooting.

Blame the mentally ill for the problem, they argued, but don’t do anything to regulate their almost unfettered ability to purchase weapons.

According to the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of people they surveyed who live in gun-owning households favor requiring background checks at gun shows, and 79 percent favor passage of a law that would prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns. The survey also found that 70 percent of those who live in gun-owning households favor a national federal database of weapons.

Maybe none of those things would make a bit of difference in dampening our national festival of firearm violence. Maybe the answers lie elsewhere, in places we haven’t yet looked.

It’s all a moot point. None of those things are likely to happen anytime soon, because this country has a bigger problem than guns. It’s called political cowardice – and that, more than anything, is what prevents us from even trying to stop the bloodshed.

Until we at least try – either through gun control or some other means – let’s stop pretending that lives matter as much as guns.

The evidence says otherwise.