As I said a few days ago, the internet is hot with finger pointing over who/what is at fault for the massacre of children in Connecticut. The NRA, who has spent tens of millions to keep government from limiting access to any gun any time, remains silent, but the gun enthusiasts have been effluent in their defense of gun ownership. Their arguments, as pointed out by another blog on this page, are faulty, to say the least, but the silliest, and most dangerous, of all, is that MORE guns would prevent gun violence. One gun advocate in Arizona baldly stated today that if all the teachers were armed, this wouldn’t have happened. Really? Aside from the ludicrous thought of elementary school teachers standing at their blackboards lecturing with guns hanging off their belts, every state but Illinois has a concealed carry law. Has that prevented the shootings in Aurora or Portland? Of course not because the shooters are crazy. But the issue isn’t their mental state. It is that they have easy access to guns that fire dozens of rounds a minute. And that is the fault of the gun lobby. Not one life in that theater in Aurora would have been saved if every person in there had a gun. It all happened too fast because that is what happens when you can use high volume magazine weapons. The folks who argue more guns are the answer are completely out of touch with reality.
Neil Steinburg, of the Sun Times, wrote in his column last week, ‘Where do we even begin?’. This is my humble opinion:
First, define the problem. We have a society that has regular and increasing gun violence. The only real difference between us and countries like us (Canada, UK, Japan, etc.) is the lack of regulation and the physical number of guns. There are over 300 MILLION guns in America, many of which are for hunting and recreation or for basic protection. But there are also millions of high magazine weapons which no private citizen has any need to own. We need to provide a realistic solution to this. These other countries do not have regular mass shootings, so are they just better than us? Or is it the lack of regulation and number and types of guns. Obviously, the latter, no matter what the pro-gun lobby says.
So, before we can even begin to deal with defining the problem, there are facts we have to accept. First, Americans will not accept a total gun ban. Second, there must be background checks and gun education before anyone can own a gun. None of us would allow a person to drive a car without testing, why should it be different with guns? There can be no exceptions to this – no gun shows, no internet, no place where you can avoid being screened and trained. Arguments about the Second Amendment are pointless and irrelevant. There was and is no constitutional intent to allow people to buy any gun they want any time they want no matter who they are. Third, there are Americans who should not be allowed to own firearms. Fourth, by restricting easy and unrestricted access to guns, you will have a reduction in gun violence. Fifth, there are types of guns that simply should be banned. No one needs Uzis, AR 15s, AK 47s and the like – exactly the types of guns used in all of these shootings.
So, if reasonable people in Congress can accept these realities, the initial step would be for the gun experts to sit down and realistically examine what sort of firearms are appropriate for hunting, recreation, re-enacting, defense, and the like and what sort of weapons simply ought not to be in the hands of anyone outside of the military or law-enforcement. Then legislative experts need to design ways to set up the screening of people who want to own firearms. Then they both need to cooperate to set up gun training programs and requirements that make legal and practical sense. This is the only solution.
For those that believe that the government is out to get them and that’s why they need a gun, I can only say that if the government wants to get you, it doesn’t matter what firearm you own. And for those who feel the criminals will still get guns? I say this – restricting access nationally will dramatically reduce access to firearms by gangs and other street criminals. As far as disarming the gangs – I’ve always felt the Patriot Act could be used against them, but that is a whole nother issue.
Truth – there are guns everywhere and gun violence is increasing. Easy access to guns HAS NOT prevented this from happening. So, how many more children must die in elementary schools and on the porches of houses in the inner cities before Congress sits down and reasonably discusses this and proposes workable solutions. We can’t wait any more. It is time for action. Enough talk. This is what needs to be done. Does anyone out there have the guts to ignore NRA money and do it? I sure hope so because it is only a matter of time before the next gun tragedy.