GUN CONTROL COULD SAVE LIVES
The National Rifle Association likes to say, “People not guns kill people.” That’s true from the standpoint that it takes a person fire the gun, but it ignores the fact that some people should not have guns. This is where the NRA and millions of concerned Americans disagree.
Any effort to regulate the sale or background checks or even to publish statistics of where a gun is purchased is fiercely defended by the NRA as a threat to the right of citizens to bear arms as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. It’s been difficult to legislate any gun control regulations as long as so many Americans are fervent gun owners and believe it is their right for self-defense to be allowed to have as many guns as they wish.
There are reports that over 300 million guns are possessed by citizens, which accounts to one gun for every man, woman and child in the United States. That equates to very fortified nation of nonmilitary citizens.
One contentious issue between gun owners and the general public is the use of assault weapons. These are generally the type of gun used by the mass murder gunman which gives them the opportunity to fire constant rounds and kill more people in one encounter. I can see no purpose of a gun owner having an assault weapon except as a trophy weapon in a collection.
Assault weapons certainly aren’t the normal guns used for legitimate hunting and target practice, so why would a private citizen need one? Their sole purpose is for military use, but the NRA keeps the door open for any private individual to acquire as many as they want along with thousands of rounds of ammunition without any regulation in most states.
I revisit this politically-sensitive issue because the mass murders of the last week in November and early December, just a week apart, seem to be getting more attention from the authorities. There is enough public concern that President Obama found it necessary to go on the air and reassure Americans that the government is doing everything in its present power to intercept potential assault on the general public.
The death of 17 persons and many more injured in Colorado and San Bernardino preceded by the mass murders in Paris carry some elements of a terrorist activity which allows the government to take a different position than dealing with a demented individual who shoots up schoolchildren or an abortion clinic for his individual vendetta, not for the glory if Islam.
Obama sent a signal that executive action may be taken if the latest mass murders have a connection to foreign terrorism. This will be difficult to sustain even if based on the information about the killers at this time. Needless to say, the NRA will be fighting any effort to control gun sales or their use.
It is interesting to note, that the news media has very little to report from the NRA on these current mass murders. However, I do recall in the past, like Sandy Hook and Colorado Springs, the NRA laid very low until the dust settled and public interest had dwindled away before attempting to justify why gun control is unAmerican. They’re very good at this.
Going back many years, the first big national effort to have better regulation of gun use was after special agent John Brady took the bullet intended for President Reagan and was disabled the rest of his life. His wife formed a national organization to battle with the NRA. Her group had considerable national support and sponsored continuous legislation that was continuously rejected by Congress under the fearless lobbying power of the NRA.
I thought if that widely publicized campaign could not succeed, nor the shootings of schoolchildren at Sandy Hook, could not touch the hearts of Congressman who are beneficiaries of campaign funding and badgered by the lobbyists, there would never be a chance to make any change. Apparently nothing has changed except more public awareness of mass murder attacks using assault weapons.
Now there is renewed interest in strengthening gun control. Conservative Republicans, backed by gobs of money paid for NRA lobbyists, will fight to the last ditch. Being an election year will favor the gun lobby because candidates will avoid being targets if they publicly supported gun control.
A break-through legal decision by the Supreme Court refused to hear a case that challenged the Second Amendment. The issue in this case was the sale or possession of semi-automatic guns that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The court’s decision was not a formal ruling, but its decision did not see the Second Amendment as protecting the right to own or carry a powerful weapon in public.
The issue of assault weapons has been a contentious debate ever since the law banning certain assault weapons nationwide expired in 2004. A bitterly divided Congress failed to renew it with Republicans opposing any gun control measure.
Organizations supported by gun owners will surely keep fighting this one as a gap in the wall built through years against any regulation that attempts to provide any form of gun control. At the same time, President Obama took to the airways to promote executive orders that would provide better regulation of gun sales. Despite his efforts, the strength of the Second Amendment as a constitutional right backed up by the strong support by gun owners will probably not produce in any significant changes in sale of firearms and ammunition.
Here are some reasons it is difficult to support gun control. Any effort to deny sale of firearms to a person on the no-fly list can’t be legislated because there is no due process taking away private citizens rights. Background checks at gun shows to identify felon attempting to purchase a weapon is difficult in most states. A person otherwise ineligible to purchase a weapon can easily have a friend purchase it for him. These obstacles are just a few that demonstrate that control of gun sales can be a hit and miss situation and do not provide security to prevent a massacre.
The record shows that more than 30,000 people are killed by firearms each year. However, two thirds of these deaths are suicide and most of the remaining gun deaths are homicides. These statistics are in the favor of the gun owners claiming that relatively few assaults are caused by someone mentally deranged or as a terrorist plot.
Whatever the purpose of deaths by guns, it was always taken in perspective with death from a disease and from the national death rate on streets and highways. However, that has changed as the latest report showed more deaths by guns than by automobiles for the first time in 60 years.
In fact, death rates from auto accidents have been decreasing per capita since 1950 while deaths by guns increased. The report by CDC claims that deaths by both gunshot and automobiles are equal. A contributing factor to the reduction in auto deaths is better technology and sensible regulation, such as mandated seat belts, anti-lock brakes and airbags.
Efforts to legislate any sensible controls have been stymied by the gun-rights advocates that keep Congressman well compensated.
It’s time for American citizens, gun owners included, to recognize there are ways to prevent these mass assaults and terrorist