The Texas church massacre has stirred the cries for gun control again — is it just noise?
The very first cry heard after each mass shooting is “We need more and tougher gun laws to stop these senseless killings.” No doubt we need to stop the senseless killings. But whatever we do needs to stop the killings, not just pacify Americans that something is being done. If those things put in place do not achieve the objective, we do not need to do them. And we have — over and over again with little if any results.
Form 4473 must be completed and submitted to the ATF when purchasing a gun. Those applications are processed by the ATF which includes a national search for information about applicants that might disqualify them from gun ownership. It sounds like a good idea and probably is. But as is the case by many programs implemented and managed by government, it has produced woeful results in many cases, and often no results at all.
The Texas church shooter — Devin Patrick Kelley — certainly was NOT an individual qualified to purchase a gun. He had a horrible past that included domestic and child abuse, threats to authorities while serving in the military, a stint in a mental institution from which he escaped, and a dishonorable discharge from the military. You would think all of that would have prevented his legal purchase of a gun. It did not. Why? It was not in the ATF database when his form 4473 was submitted.
The ATF gun purchase online qualification program is a total failure. That system is no different than any other IT system on Earth: the information you can retrieve from it can only be the information that is put into the system. The system is far from accurate and void of complete criminal information of millions of those who are felons. In fact, last year 38 states failed to report to the ATF 80% of their felony convictions. That comprises approximately 8 million criminal records today not in the system allowing those felons to legally purchase a firearm if they so choose.
Politicians rant and rave to the press, on the floors of the House and Senate, and in townhall meetings that real gun control is absolutely necessary. We need to outlaw assault weapons, high capacity gun clips, bump stocks, and restrict the amount of ammunition a person can own. That sounds good, doesn’t it? If you take away the ability to have the necessary hardware to perpetrate a mass killing, a killer is halfway there.
A California Democrat lawmaker — Ted Lieu — walked out of Congress as House members on Monday began a moment of silence for the Texas massacre victims. His reason? “My colleagues right now are doing a moment of silence,” he said. “I respect their right to do that and I myself have participated in many of them. But I can’t do this again. I’ve been to too many moments of silences. Just in my short career in Congress, three of the worst mass shootings in US history have occurred. I will not be silent. What we need is action. We need to pass gun safety legislation now.” Again that makes a good point — a political point. And political points have done nothing to stop mass shootings.
The city of Chicago has long been called the U.S. city with the strictest gun laws. That actually is not true. Personal gun ownership IS a Constitutional right Chicago citizens have that same right as every other American. Conceal carry currently is a state and local regulatory issue. But ANY gun laws in place nationally, on a state level, and the Chicago city level are NOT working. The city saw a surge in gun violence in 2016: 762 murders, 3,550 shooting incidents, and 4,331 shooting victims, according to a statement released by the City several days ago. There were 480 murders in 2015, the most in the city since 1997. In 2016 there were 721 murders, and 559 so far in 2017. Why has Chicago become the poster child for the failure of gun control? It is simply another example of how politicians who cry for more government control simply want government control but refuse to accept the responsibility of using that control to stop senseless killings and to thereby protect its citizens. Rahm Emmanuel — Chicago mayor — has taken Chicago law enforcement so far away from attacking gun violence that local law enforcement officers do not know what to do. If they enact and use traditional law enforcement tactics that have been effective in the past — like “stop and search” — they violate the Mayor’s mandate to stand down. Additionally in cases of violence and life threatening altercations, police are hesitant to follow long standing police violence incident protocols for fear of legal repercussions for those actions. To add to Chicago’s issue is that 47% of African-American males who live in Chicago are unemployed and not working. Black-on-black murder in astronomical. It accounted for 83% of total 2016 murders.
Is There a Solution?
It would be asinine to say any one thing would stop mass shootings in America or anywhere else, for that matter. There is one thing for certain that will NOT stop them: more government regulations or more gun laws. There are today more than 20,000 federal, state, and local gun laws in the U.S. What would one or two more added do? Nothing but maybe soothe the consciences of those legislators who need to make voters feel they are really doing something to help. But there are several things that in combination could quickly make a difference and begin a process of REAL gun control:
- Enforce the Law. That’s a novel idea. And I’m not speaking about gun ownership laws. I am referring to local, state, and federal laws violated daily with impunity by offenders. Violent criminals in Chicago know what they can get away with when it comes to illegal gun use. Honest people do not as a rule take advantage of the law. They do, however, expect their law enforcement professionals to make sure ALL people keep the law and that offenders are punished accordingly. Strict law enforcement with stiff, certain, and quick penalty enforcement against those who break gun laws is definitely a deterrent. Without that, American criminals become a President Bashar al-Assad of Syria when Obama made his famous “red line” threat to al-Asaad about his use of chemical weapons. Al-Asaad continue to use them….Obama did nothing. Asaad used chemicals against Syrian citizens again and again. Criminals know what they can get away with and always test the “red line.” They take what they are given. Leftist judges and politicians have opened the door to allow criminal behavior never before seen in my lifetime. On the federal level, Obama accomplished his promise to “fundamentally change America” in part with his appointments of several hundred liberal judges. Many states followed that lead. Law enforcement in the past 8 years has been watered down. Enforcement of laws — not just arrests — are critical to curb these mass shootings and shootings in general.
- Either Abide by Regulations or Abolish Them. The ATF gun purchase online application system on the surface is a good one. But it is ineffective because it is not being used as it should. It is a process in name only. The U.S. Justice Department needs to immediately create stiff penalties for all those who do not closely adhere to the process of verification of the legal status of every applicant who buys a gun based on complete and accurate background information. It is pure insanity to have such a program, yet 38 states thumb their noses at it. Make it mandatory — OR ELSE!
- Education. Almost half of African American males in Chicago don’t attend school and don’t work. Obviously the education system there is failing Chicago residents. But Chicago is not alone. The high school dropout rate in America is skyrocketing. The social acceptance of mediocrity has initiated a precipitous drop in the educational levels among Millenials. Historically nations with intense concentration on the education of their youth have achieved remarkably superior societal results, not just in education, but in business, education, the Arts, and much less crime. College no longer is a cookie-cutter necessity for teenager, and rightfully so. The U.S. job market as it has grown is experiencing increasing demand for skilled blue collar welders. Trade schools and junior colleges are in many cases more relative to the Nation’s job needs than colleges and universities. And the rapidly increasing costs of college make these alternatives much more attractive as does the fact that higher demand for skilled laborers means much meatier compensation packages for those choosing this option. But success in education is totally dependent upon a positive perception of higher education being instilled in the minds of our youth. Unfortunately in many cases that painted picture has been anything but positive. While education by itself is no sure cure for mass gun shootings, it is definitely a critical building block for doing so.
- “Real” Home Environment. This is to say nothing derogatory or racial, but U.S. economics because of welfare and social benefits dependency has created a social environment that penalizes low income two-parent families while benefiting single parent homes. In most cases that single parent is a single Mom –Dad is either not around much or not around at all. The lack of two parent nurturing, caring, and teaching literally leaves children to fend for themselves regarding growth, learning, and coping with life as it unfolds for them. Lessons of life and how to live do NOT just happen. They must be taught. And children who daily receive life input from two different parents each with a different perspective actually instills in children values and morals that otherwise are learned on the street. And “street values” are not what our children should learn. We MUST revise this system to encourage two-parent homes. Sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists universally concur that children who are products of two-parent homes have far fewer problems coping in society with its rules, regulations, and requirements than those from single-parent homes.
We MUST stop mass shootings. It will not be easy. In fact we must find ways to curtail its growth in number immediately. Such shootings have become far too common in the past few years and their numbers are growing. We MUST assure our children and grandchildren that they will be able to live in a peaceful environment free from the fear of violence. Without that assurance they will love in the same civil environment as many third-world countries. We owe the next generation that.
Politicians need to acknowledge their failures not to create laws, but to see to it that those laws are implemented, maintained, and honored at every level of government nationwide. For far too long politicians have used law creation as a tool to garner votes: at election time fishing for votes using the “bait of the day” to attract voter fish into their boat.
But this is not about law enforcement or the political system or schools or families. This is about our Nation, everything in it, and everyone in it. Implementing a bunch of new rules and laws will not change a thing. Our leaders need to find ways in small and large settings to have honest and open conversations with other Americans about society’s issues and problems and find ways to solve those together. That will not be easy and it will not be quickly accomplished. But what about our future is too difficult for us to put our personal agendas to the side and take up the agendas of those who must assume our roles in a few years and make sure we leave them in a good place?
Our Nation deserves that. Our families deserve that. The next generation of Americans deserves that too.
“Anything worth having is worth working for.”