Guns: Time to face the truth

5 Oct

Here’s the truth: The US has a horrible gun problem.  HORRIBLE.

The Oregon shooting, Sandy Hook, Charleston, etc. Problems with violent crimes in the cities. A rate of gun violence that is 100X higher than 20 other developed nations and makes the US more like Yemen than say, the UK or another major economic power.

It is time to face the facts, folks. Despite what the NRA and other folks would tell you: “more guns with more people equals less gun violence”; “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”; “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”; “if you take away the guns the bad guys will find another way to kill”; “it’s our Godless society that is to blame” “It is mental illness that’s to blame, not guns” … if we as a country do not become as outraged about this as we are about say, abortion or gay rights (on both sides of the ledger mind you), this problem will continue.

Every single argument put up by the NRA and parroted by the right wing can be proven wrong with simple data and facts. And the simple fact is, our country has a horrible gun violence problem.

We have utterly gutless lawmakers – they are far more concerned about their mealtickets on the backs of the taxpayers and their donor sponsors (and yes, this is again, both parties) than they are about doing anything about this. The Republicans are afraid to piss off the NRA because then the NRA will just fund another guy to replace them. The Democrats are also afraid to take a strong anti-gun stand and introduce legislation for the same reason.

We, as citizens need to take this up. We must decide that enough is enough.

Why aren’t we holding our legislators truly accountable for this?

It seems so futile. President Obama said it best when he talked about how routine this is.

The difficulty is, the vast majority of American gun owners ARE responsible.

While I am very liberal in my political views, I enjoy shooting firearms. I don’t currently own any sort of weapon, nor do I have plans to – but as I kid, I learned how to shoot and responsibly handle a firearm between boy scouts and going with my neighbors, grandfather and father. As an adult, I will occasionally go to a range, rent a gun and shoot. It IS fun. But every time I do I have to remind myself that the same thing I am using to make a loud noise and punch holes through paper targets, if pointed at a human, will tear a large hole completely through that human, and very likely will end that person’s life. Because that is what guns are designed to do. Kill. Period.

Like everything else, we can’t solve the entire problem all at once. But we can attempt to put greater controls on who can own a firearm and how we hold those firearm owners accountable and responsible for their weapons. Will it completely stop the madness? No. Will it completely stop the flow of illegal weapons? No again. But it will help. Data proves it.  Here’s my view on where go and what we need to do.

And a caveat: These laws must be applied universally across all states.  So here goes:

1) Close the distribution channels:  Start with closiing every gun transaction loop hole. Private sales must be reported, and gun show sales must be reported as well and must follow the same procedures for registration, licensing and background checks as a retail store.

2) Universal background check:  A background check must be performed at the time of tramsaction and the 3-day loophole must be immediately terminated.  The three-day loophole allowed the Chaleston shooter to get his weapons.  Things that disqualify you: mental health history including treatment with prescription drugs, being a convicted felon, being convicted for any sort of gun violence, being convicted for domestic battery, and I’m sure many more.

3) Registration of owners:  Every firearm owner must be registered – Illinois, for example, has the Firearms Owner’s Identification Card – having a FOID is required if you purchase a firearm or ammunition.  A federal equivalent is the answer to this.  And you must renew your card every 2 years.  But, this should be strengthened to the level of a driver’s licence – you must take a written test to renew it every 6 years and to get it initially, you must also pass a proficiency demonstration of weapon safety.  Just like a driver’s licence.

4) Registration and Insurance of individual weapons:  Weapons should be treated like cars – the FOID card is like your driver’s licence, and you must insure and register your weapon, and your weapon must carry an unremovable registration sticker that shows it is registered.  The insurance is liability insurance – cause mayhem with your gun, and your insurance covers the victim and the victim’s families.  I’m sure the insurance industry will figure out a way to make money on this and make it tough to get.  On the registration, you must renew your registration of every weapon annually.

Now, doing all this won’t eliminate our problem, but it will put an enormous dent in it. We also must get rid of stupid things we’ve done like making it illegal for the CDC to compile statistics on gun violence and its costs/problems it causes in society.

But we have to act. The time to do it is now. I encourage you, if you care about America, care about our children and care about having a world where “normal” doesn’t include lockdown drills for KIndergarteners, then we have to act. And it is time for responsible, law-abiding gun owners to get behind this. You fear that regulation is a “slippery slope to the government coming after your guns” – tell you what, this path of mass shootings and violence going unchecked is far more likely to result in the government coming for your guns than any effort to register and manage firearm ownership. We must move move the needles.

To anyone that comments: please know I moderate the comments and I operate by the stick and stones dictum. In other words, posting a hate-filled diatribe will not make it into my comments and it will be deleted without me even reading it. If you disagree though and you make a reasonable comment and present a point of view that is based on factual information about why you disagree, then I may post it.

For the longest time, I have chosen to make this blog non-political.  I’m sure this post will cost me readers, but if that’s the price of putting my voice out there calling for our representatives to get off their asses and act, well that’s a small price to pay.

As you were,

Stew

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