It’s hard to feel like much will get done on gun safety

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

The mass shootings continue — so many it is hard to keep track.

And we do nothing.

That’s because the gun lobby has mobilized a fanatic minority of the population to think they have some holy right to own, carry and use guns with no restrictions. “Shall not be infringed” they scream at the slightest suggestion of any common sense gun safety laws.

We know that argument is a bunch of crap — there are clear limits on all Constitutional rights. Whether it is libel not being protected by the First Amendment or you having to take off your shoes at the airport, which would seem to violate the Fourth Amendment, all rights have limits and some intersect and conflict with each other.

And I have to ask: isn’t there some right not to be shot to death while shopping, learning long division or going to the movies? I’d like to think so.

And just to make it clear: it’s not video games, porn, marijuana or lack of religion causing all this gun violence. It’s too many guns. Dozens of other countries — Canada, the UK, Australia, etc. — have the same social issues, and yet not so many gun deaths.

You know what those countries don’t have? 1.2 (roughly) guns per person as we have in the U.S. So, yeah, it’s the guns.

So in the unlikely event something were to happen on gun safety, legislatively, what limits are reasonable?

Although it is never going to happen, military semi-automatic rifles should be banned or at least restricted to highly trained and licensed users. 

They have a rate of fire twice that of most other weapons and a muzzle velocity also twice that of most other weapons. They were designed to do one thing: kill people on the battlefield. They suck as hunting weapons. As they are accurate to 550 yards, they’re not great target weapons (not much of a challenge at 50 feet).

Some argue these weapons are needed to fight off a tyrannical government. This is just out and out fantasy gun porn. Were there some sort of real whack job uprising, alleged “patriots” with their mighty AR15s would become just so much pink and gray mist when a drone pops up over the tree line and sends them to the great beyond. 

So, to recap: useless for hunting (destroys the deer). Pointless for target/sport shooting. Useless to fight “tyranny.” It’s like driving an Indy Car up US 202 at 210 MPH — needlessly dangerous and not particularly useful in a real world situation. Except to slaughter the innocent.

As a ban is all but impossible, I’d like to see these weapons require licensing, training and insurance. And no, that does not violate the Second Amendment. .50 caliber machine guns are heavily regulated, among other weapons of war. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing in D.C. v. Heller in 2008, made it clear there are some limits to the right to bear some arms and where they can be carried and by whom.

A ban or any additional limits are not going to happen, of course — even a change to the minimum buying age from 18 to 21 seems doomed. Every Republican elected official is literally afraid of the growing crazy fringe of the party — maniacal fanboys stirred up by right-wing propaganda on Fox News and similar outlets.

Red flag laws — already in force in 19 states and the District of Columbia — do not violate the Constitution, despite specious (and deceptive) claims elsewhere (such as those made by US House Republicans this past week) — as long as the law provides due process. The same is true with waiting periods.

Still, I’m not hopeful. There is too much money and too much fear of an activist minority that wants to cosplay as GI Joe.

And while high-powered rifles get a lot of media attention, more people — including two women in Valley not long ago and a man in Coatesville, just this past Friday night — are killed by handguns.

Again, without taking anyone’s gun away, there are things we can do to cut down on gun deaths.

Mandatory reporting of stolen weapons. I don’t for the life me understand why people oppose this — shouldn’t the police know the weapon you bought has been stolen? Wouldn’t you want people to know — especially if it is used in the commission of a crime?

We need storage rules, too. If you don’t lock your gun up and someone else uses it and is wounded/killed or wounds/kills someone else, there should be consequences if the weapon wasn’t secured. Rights mean responsibility, too.

There should be background checks for all gun sales. These are routine and typically quick — we’ve all gone through them to coach youth sports, to be hired in certain industries and for a number of public and medical professions.

So called “Ghost” guns should be illegal. If folks want to buy parts to build their own guns, fine, they should all have serial numbers and a way to trace ownership — making them just like all other guns sold in the U.S.

I don’t expect any of this to happen, mind you. We’ll forget about this most recent massacre and move on to something else until the next massacre happens. We’ve been doing it for decades.

How much longer?

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment