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Short answer: Neither.
In the wake of the “mass” shootings in recent past years, many Americans are once again clamoring for gun control. Their cries are chiefly the result of emotional angst and are principally based on that anger, fear, and shock rather than reason.What needs to be done? Who needs to do it? What will it look like if a way is found to stop similar shootings? And is some type of gun control the answer? If so, can it be done, what needs to be done, and who needs to do it?
We will first discuss the specific areas of concern and potential “fixes” in the gun control conversation. At the end of this, we will summarize with the answer: OUR answer.
Most will agree there are holes in the gun purchase background check system that has allowed many to slip through the cracks. The process could simply be made more efficient, more timely, broader in obtaining more information on each applicant, and could be expanded to include the legal private sale of guns and even sales at gun shows.
Mental Health issues are a consideration that should be part of the background checks process, and MUST be an intricate piece of the gun purchasing process that includes the direct involvement of mental health professionals and law enforcement experts. But what changes should be made to the application process for this to be included? Remember: the HIPPA law protects the privacy of the medical records of all Americans. A HIPPA release would be required with each application if any health circumstances would be included in the gun purchase application.
New Gun Laws
Every time there is a mass shooting in the U.S. — especially a school shooting — gun control advocates repeat their demands for new gun laws — sometimes even gun confiscation. We have heard their justifications for new laws over and over again, but even with massive demonstrations, nothing legally ever gets done to address these shootings. Why is that?
There are MANY gun laws in force at the federal, state, and local levels that are obviously ineffective. Why pass new ones? Which ones would work if passed?
For the sake of this conversation, consider how many gun laws there are today. For many years, gun advocates have spouted the number 20,000 gun laws at federal, state, and local levels combined. Even President Reagan used that number. There is NO verification anywhere of that number or ANY number of the combination of federal, state, and local gun laws. What we DO know is there are many.
Alan Korwin, who co-wrote “Gun Laws of America” with Michael P. Anthony, has added up 271 federal gun statutes, but says all of these numbers are fairly meaningless. He has written an essay on his Web site addressing the question of how many gun laws exist, and whether this is even the proper metric in the first place. “If the goal of the laws is to outlaw crime, then there are enough, because all these luridly promoted acts of infamy involve many laws being violently broken…. Ask if there is sufficient ‘crime control,’ and everyone seems to agree there is not,” Korwin wrote.
If one assumes there are several hundred more gun laws today at state and local levels to add to these 271 Korwin stated (even if THAT number is accurate), there could easily be 600 gun laws in effect in the U.S. You can bet that all those laws on the books comprehensively include just about any gun issue one could imagine, and in total should with their enforcement regulate in every way ownership and use of every type of gun.
There are 30,000 reported deaths annually in the U.S. from gunshots. Here’s the breakdown of those 30,000 as reported by the FBI for 2016. (And the Center for Disease Control states that number is 33,000+, not 30,000):
• 65% of those deaths were by suicide (19,500);
• 15% were by law enforcement in the line of duty and deemed “justified;” (4,500)
• 17% were through criminal activity, gang and drug related or mentally ill persons; (5,100)
• 3% were from accidental gun discharge. (900)
So technically, “gun violence” is not 30,000 annually, but drops to 5,100. Still too many? Well, first, how are those deaths spanned across the nation?
• 480 homicides (9.4%) were in Chicago
• 344 homicides (6.7%) were in Baltimore
• 333 homicides (6.5%) were in Detroit
• 119 homicides (2.3%) were in Washington D.C. (a 54% increase over prior years)
Total Gun Confiscation or of Certain Types of Guns
Gun confiscation will never happen in the U.S. as long as our government is in its present form. There are too many legal protections against that occurring. But there are many from the Left that would love nothing better than for the government to take away all guns from American citizens and abolish private gun ownership. Their justifications for doing so are primarily these:
- We have law enforcement protection. No individual needs to have personal guns;
- Too many guns means it’s too easy to access guns to kill people;
- No one is safe as long as someone else has legal access to guns that might be used to kill;
- Do away with guns and that will do away with mass shootings.
I will not take the time to counter each of the above arguments. I will just say American gun confiscation will never happen.
But what about laws to prohibit certain types of guns — like “assault rifles?’
First, let’s make one thing clear: the most popular rifle termed by the Left as an “assault rifle” is an AR-15. “No one needs a military style fully automatic rifle,” gun control advocates maintain. “No one can hunt with those. Why should they be legal?” Here are answers for those:
- ALL fully automatic weapons were removed from legal private gun ownership decades ago with rare exceptions. The AR-15 and similar styled rifle or a typical handgun to be legal, that gun must require the shooter to squeeze the trigger once to fire one shell. To fire again the trigger must be pulled again. That’s “semi-automatic.” A fully automatic weapon — like a machine gun — allows the shooter to pull the trigger one time, hold it down, which allows the gun to fire continuously until the trigger is released or the gun magazine that holds bullets is emptied. THIS STYLE OF GUN HAS BEEN ILLEGAL FOR SOMETIME FOR USE AND/OR OWNERSHIP BY ALL BUT THE MILITARY, LAW ENFORCEMENT, AND IN RARE CASES SOME GUN COLLECTORS AND MUSEUMS.
- An AR-15 is semi-automatic. It is NOT an “assault rifle.” That term actually applies to the military version of the AR-15 used only by the military and law enforcement. That version is a M-4 rifle;
- Most handguns are actually semi-automatics. Far more gun murders are committed with a semi-automatic handgun than with an AR-15;
- “What is the purpose of private use of hi-capacity magazines that hold sometimes several dozen bullets? Surely those could be used only for mass shootings.” Imagine a police officer in a gun battle with one or several criminals. Seldom is the setting of such a situation where each stands perfectly still out in the open at a distance of 5-10 yards while any shooting takes place. Seldom are the parties involved in such shootings calm and collected and steady when they aim and shoot. For self defense, military, or law enforcement use of semi-automatic guns does the first or second, third or fourth, and sometime subsequent rounds hit the mark, stop the perpetrator, and protect the shooter. Being able to fire as many as 10-15 times if necessary in such a situation is the purpose for the production of hi-capacity magazines for semi-automatic weapons.
How can we legitimately curb the gun violence including mass shootings? Let’s include the following:
Background Checks most assuredly should be toughened and broadened. There MUST be inclusion of mental health information of the applicant that MUST have a mechanism for FBI application processors to be able to quickly access those health records for applicants. Private and gun show gun sales should also require the same background check. How successful would this be? There’s no way to tell for certain, but several mass shooting perpetrators of the last few would have been prevented from gun purchases if such a system existed.
New Gun Laws No new gun laws — federal, state, or local — need to be passed and enacted. We need to begin to enforce EVERY CURRENT GUN LAW! Let’s face it: criminals don’t care about gun laws and will never abide by them. But immediately enacting on every law enforcement level a mandatory enforcement of every gun law would accomplish several things: 1) initiate a real deterrent for criminals, for they would experience real consequences for their illegal acts. If every gang-banger, drug lord, and drug dealer in Chicago knew for certain that if caught with an illegal gun they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, the huge number of violations would certainly decrease; 2) by aggressively pursuing, capturing, and prosecuting all those who break gun laws will remove a large number of people from the streets. That in itself is a very successful way to stop gun crimes; 3) Fear of consequences for criminal gun law breaking that is currently non-existent would immediately impact the social sub-cultures that are primarily responsible for a large majority of gun crimes. This would destroy that sub-culture.
The point is that there are — insert number here — laws on the books that address anything illegal that anyone can do with a firearm. Having that number of laws, plus one, isn’t going to make anyone safer. What will make everyone safer is if we enforce the laws that we have on the books now.
Gun Confiscation That cannot legally happen. Former Supreme Court Justice Stevens recently suggested repealing the 2nd Amendment that gives Americans the right to “hold and bear arms.” Doing so would require a two-thirds vote of Congress plus 38 States to formally approve any such action.
George Washington added his personal thoughts to the importance of the 2nd Amendment with this: “A free people ought not only be armed ad disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.” Americans for the foreseeable future will retain the right to own guns.
How do we stop senseless gun violence? It will take a combination of things: broaden gun ownership applications and make private and gun show sales applications mandatory; Mandate all law enforcement professionals aggressively attack criminal gun activity of every type — including maximum sentences for convicted violators; stop the senseless media lies about types of gun crimes, Media use of weapon terminology that is misleading to the American people, and maybe most importantly, instead of demonizing groups like the NRA, embrace and expand their educational programs that have taught millions of Americans the responsibilities of owning and using firearms, how to shoot, and personal defense. AND STOP THE FOOLISHNESS OF “GUN FREE ZONES!” Almost all mass gun shootings have taken place in gun free zones. Criminals love gun free zones, because they know they will face no opposition no one else will have a gun in those zones!
But the most important two things that MUST be done to curb this violence is for EVERYONE to begin to speak “to” each other and not “at” each other. Listening and really hearing those with opposite views on this matter and finding ways to bridge any gaps to find commonalities that all can work together to accomplish is critical. ALL must stop the politicization for political advantage: Democrats AND Republicans. A Mom or Dad who just buried their high school junior who was shot at school doesn’t care about political party affiliation or any political narrative desired by any class of gun control or gun advocate.
All that matters is creating an American environment to protect innocents while stopping illegal possession and use of firearms of every kind. We must stop threatening actions that will never be taken. And we must stop the hypocritical threats of such actions only when there’s another mass shooting.
“If” we together don’t work with ALL of the above elements to attack this horror that now is repeating itself more and more, we are doomed to repeat our history again and again. Who will pay that price? Primarily innocent children.
Enough is Enough!