Gun rights

The horror of the Vegas shootings shocked the nation, and, predictably, was followed by “thoughts and prayers” and “this is not the time or place” when the question arose whether some measures might prevent future massacres.

 

The NRA wields outsize influence at every level of the body politic. We have all heard the slogans, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, and “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. It may be true in some rare cases, but how well has that worked for us generally in the past?

 

Blame focused on the shooters, described as mental health patients or terrorists, both foreign and domestic, motivated by racism, homophobia, political or religious ideology. The shooters’ motivation and mental status was used to divert attention from the easy availability of guns, which of course is the common denominator in every shooting. We lead the world in the incidence of gun violence because we lead the world in the number of guns floating among the general population.

 

What motivates a person to buy a gun? I understand the police and the military need guns to maintain order. I understand that hunters need guns to harvest animals for food or to maintain proper populations. I understand owning a gun for self-protection. But who needs an arsenal of assault weapons? The Second Amendment is frequently used to oppose the creation of a national gun registry. But the current interpretation of the Second Amendment protecting an individual’s right to bear arms only dates back to the 2008 Supreme Court decision in Heller vs. District of Columbia. And yet, just as the Minutemen resisted the British, the argument goes, our armed citizens are ready to repel a totalitarian takeover. Gun sales spiked after Obama’s election because of a perception that the government was going to confiscate guns. It did not happen, and it won’t. The US military, the police, the sheriff departments are made up of the people we justly praise when they are deployed in times of disaster, natural and otherwise. They are us.

 

It would be nearly impossible to implement a gun “buyback” as Australia did. But some measures could help. A moratorium on the number of guns a person can purchase would help prevent more stockpiling in the future. We should renew the ban on assault weapons. We need extensive background checks. A national registry would raise the alarm when someone starts stockpiling guns, and would cancel the risk of a shooter purchasing guns in several states.

 

Gun violence is an epidemic. We mourn the victims of the Las Vegas shootings, as we should. How about the women killed by their husbands or partners, the children playing with guns, the depressed teen pressing the trigger of his dad’s gun, the veteran with PTSD? 50% of guns are owned by 3 % of the population. Do the rights of the 3% trump your rights, and mine, to reasonable safety?

 

Marie-Anne is slow to post and usually behind the curve – sorry! It is not for lack of thought, but because she needs to get her facts straight and consider several perspectives before she writes. As usual, the ideas expressed are her own, and she bears sole responsibility for this.

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