The time for reasonable restrictions on gun ownership is long overdue. We’ve already endured far too many mass shootings of innocent Americans, including children who barely started their first year of school. How many more of these tragedies must happen before our representatives in Washington do something about it?
Our Constitutional rights are not unlimited. The First Amendment right to free speech doesn’t mean you can slander someone or yell “fire” in a crowded theater. The need for order and safety dictates that restrictions are necessary for public protection. The same logic plainly applies to guns.
The National Rifle Association’s proposed solution to introduce more guns into our schools isn’t the answer. More guns only increase the potential for more killings, either by accident or theft of the weapons. Gun-wielding teachers would send the wrong message to our children who go to school to learn. Teachers don’t want the burden of being security guards, nor should they be expected to maintain the level of firearm proficiency to ensure their own safety if thrust into a shootout. We want teachers to focus on the education of our children, period.
On January 16, 2013, President Obama announced of series of actions and proposals that directly address the escalating levels of gun violence. All of them should be implemented as soon as possible and your unconditional support for these measures is crucial.
The most critical of these proposals require special attention and immediate action (with appropriate exceptions for active-duty military and law enforcement):
- Complete ban on military-style assault weapons
- 10-round limit on magazine clips and cartridges
- Mandatory background checks on both public and private gun sales
- Complete ban on armor-piercing bullets
- Aid and funding for schools to develop emergency response plans
- Expanded funding for mental health programs
While these are the most urgent measures, the president’s entire list of proposed congressional and executive actions must be enacted. Continuing down the current path to more tragic executions in our schools can’t be tolerated. Reducing gun violence can be accomplished without jeopardizing the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
It’s ironic that driving is a privilege, while owning a gun is a right – gun owners must bear the responsibility of demonstrating they’re worthy of carrying a firearm. This must include appropriate training at an approved firing range before granting of a four-year maximum state license. At a minimum, this training should include education about firearms and testing on the range. Testing should also be conducted at the time the license is renewed. We already require this of all automobile drivers, and no less should be expected of gun owners. On a similar token, all firearms must bear appropriate serial numbers, and all sales and transfers must be registered. Once again, we already require this of all automobiles, and should be doing the same for all firearms.
In addition to background checks, the mental fitness of anyone buying a gun should be verified. We’ve seen more than enough of these deranged killers to conclude they usually have mental issues that haven’t been seriously diagnosed and treated. Many of them are a threat to society without guns, and become an uncontrollable, lethal force when armed with semiautomatic weapons. That was clearly the case in Newtown, Connecticut.
The gun show loophole must be slammed shut. Gun shows are currently providing an easy way for buyers to get around identification and background checks that would prevent many gun sales. All sales, both by registered dealers and private individuals, should be subjected to the same rigorous screening process. This will make it far more difficult for questionable buyers to subvert our ability to stop them from acquiring weapons.
While the rights protected by the Second Amendment must be respected, it’s not a blank check. The Second Amendment was enacted in 1791, more than 200 years ago. Gun technology has advanced significantly during this time, but the laws and regulations have just not kept up. Guns are inherently dangerous in the hands of the wrong people, and those people must be prevented from buying and owning them. Included in that group are convicted felons, the mentally unstable, and anyone who can’t pass a thorough background investigation. A bright line must be drawn in the sand that those people can’t cross under any circumstances.
The president’s proposals don’t restrict hunters or anyone desiring a gun for self-defense. Your strong support is encouraged and respectfully requested for expedited passage of his plans for reducing the escalating level of gun violence across our nation. It can’t happen soon enough.