Tag: gun laws

Today’s Title Is… Addressing Gun Violence in America- Part 3

Today’s Title Is… Addressing Gun Violence in America- Part 3

For those who say that most gun owners are law abiding citizens, I believe this to be true. I wonder, though, how many crimes were committed by law abiding citizens until they were no longer law abiding citizens. The fact is that over 30,000 Americans die each year in gun related shootings. As I’ve heard many times before, guns don’t kill people- people kill people. So, keeping that in mind, let’s look at some changes that address people, as well as the guns they own.

I’ve read in numerous articles that the majority of gun related deaths are from suicides and accidents. If that’s true, how about instituting a ten day waiting period nation wide? This one simple step may cut down on suicides simply because individuals who may be contemplating suicide can’t act rashly. Regarding accidents, especially with children, gun owners should be required to secure their guns in a locked safe or cabinet when they are not home. For those who say that this should only be the case if minors are in the house, this added step should not only protect children who could harm themselves with guns that are accessible, it should also prevent many thefts.

It’s controversial, but guns that are designed for military use should not be available to the general public. That includes, but isn’t limited to, guns such as the AR-15. Weapons like these aren’t needed for hunting or self defense, and are only intended for use in firing as many rounds as possible in the shortest amount of time. Are they fun to use? I’ve never fired one, but I would love to try. For that matter, I’d love to try a machine gun, drive a tank, fly in a fighter plane, and try a grenade launcher. That’s not really the point, though. There is no reason or justification to own weapons like this.

As to the gun buying process, I know that different states use a different process for potential gun buyers. Here in New York, after taking a mandatory gun safety course, a person can choose a gun they want to purchase, make a deposit or pay for the gun entirely, and then submit the paperwork. If approved, that individual can then show their paperwork when they pick up their gun. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but the person who chose a gun and paid for that gun has never fired that gun. So, if I’ve never fired the weapon, how do I know what gun I want? It would be like buying a car without being allowed to drive the car. To further complicate the process, once I have possession of my gun, what about mandatory training? I’ve never heard of one gun owner who isn’t in favor of training. I don’t know what system would work best, but it seems like common sense that a person who wants to buy a gun should have safety and hands on training before they can own a gun.

Certainly related to gun ownership is gun registration. I believe that most Americans agree that a gun that is purchased should be registered with the Federal government and a background check performed. Certainly, there are those who disagree, possibly because they simply don’t trust government intrusion. What if I want to sell my gun online or through an ad? What if I want to give it away to a friend or family member? It’s this “change of ownership” that leads to many crimes being committed. Should the current owner of a gun be required legally to bring it to an authorized dealer so a background check on the recepient can be completed?

Mental health seems to come up whenever there is a mass shooting. Although it certainly may be a factor with many of those who commit crimes with guns, it seems to me that it’s become more of an excuse used to deflect any proposed changes in gun laws by those who are against such changes. Do we need to conduct research into ties between mental health and acts of violence with guns? Certainly. We also need to address issues regarding the reporting of those individuals thought to be a possible threat to society by counselors, doctors, teachers, etc. How about social media postings? Can and should we look into methods of monitoring these avenues? These are certainly complicated issues, but we can’t use mental health as an excuse to  justify inaction in other areas related to gun violence.

Finally, we must keep in mind that millions of Americans live in rural areas where police are simply not close enough or do not have an adequate number of officers to provide protection. That may also be true in urban environments. Regardless, gun ownership for self-protection is entrenched in American society and history and that’s not changing anytime soon, if ever.  The focus must be to address types of weapons owned, keeping track of who’s in possession of the gun, and making sure that gun owners are both knowledgeable and well trained in the operation of their weapon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Title Is… Addressing Gun Violence in America- Part 2

Today’s Title Is… Addressing Gun Violence in America- Part 2

In Part 1, I introduced the topic of gun violence by identifying what I feel needed to take place before specific actions could be implemented to address this issue.

Even as I wrote Part 1, I knew that many on the different sides of the gun debate expect that the focus on gun violence should immediately address the Second Amendment, restrictions on certain weapons or ammunition, background checks, etc. I believe that the issues mentioned in Part 1 had to be addressed first, sort of like setting the table before a meal. Part 2 continues that trend as I believe there is another issue that should be addressed either before, or while, actions are taken involving lawful gun ownership. That issue is the apparently overwhelming number of guns in the hands of those who ignore current laws while committing crimes.

There have been almost too many times to count how often those against actions to address guns and gun laws have referred to criminals using guns and not following the law. It has been written and stated how law abiding citizens should not be penalized for following the law when criminals aren’t. I’ve heard how law abiding citizens have the right to defend themselves against these criminals, and how more guns in the hands of those who follow the law will result in fewer gun related deaths because- “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. Whether you identify yourself as a proponent of “gun control” or are a supporter of “gun rights”, or even somewhere in the middle, no one can argue that there is not a flood of weapons in the hands of criminals.

Since I’m writing this really as a conversation starter, let me first say that I’m far from an expert on criminal justice or the law. In other words, I can’t say that I have clear solutions as to how best to address guns in the hands of criminals. However, there are some strategies to consider:

  1. Gun buy back programs, assuming that weapons collected are destroyed. The same can be said for guns in the possession of law enforcement. When no longer needed for the legal process, they must be destroyed. Along a similar line, I read recently that some police departments are so strapped for cash to update their weapons that they sell their older guns to the general public. Understandable, but also unacceptable.
  2. Technological advances that limit who can use a particular weapon, usually referred to as “personalized guns”, such as fingerprint scanners, etc. Many hate to see the government taking legal steps to enforce these actions, but it may be necessary the same as it was with car seatbelts and child safety seats.
  3. It’s been suggested in numerous articles that guns used in crimes were originally purchased legally, but eventually changed hands through “straw purchases”, gifting, by theft, etc. Although gun purchases are in my Part 3, the availability of these weapons is perhaps the most important factor in addressing guns in the hands of criminals.
  4. Harsher penalties for those in possession of illegal weapons or convicted of crimes involving firearms, as well as limits on gun ownership for those with previous convictions for crimes involving guns.
  5. Requiring better security for gun dealers, manufacturers, and private owners to secure their guns so they are less likely to be stolen. This probably involves changes in the law which many immediately see as governmental overreach. See #2 above.

Now, I can already hear the screaming from those who claim any restrictions like these target those who follow the law, in other words, law abiding citizens. I suppose that’s true.  My response is that guns in the hands of criminals were often first purchased legally and, if not, some strategies listed here may address guns purchased or possessed illegally.

 

 

Today’s Title Is… Addressing Gun Violence In America (edited version of parts 1-3)

Today’s Title Is… Addressing Gun Violence In America (edited version of parts 1-3)

I had hoped to write this when we weren’t in the aftermath of another mass shooting, but that appears to be impossible. Let’s begin with certain realities.

First, do we really have a gun problem in America? Millions of Americans are willing to accept over thirty-thousand gun deaths annually as the price to pay for individual rights. Second, regardless of what steps are taken, we won’t eliminate all murders, suicides, and mass shootings. The goal should be to reduce these deaths substantially, but they’re not all going away. Third, let’s drop the name calling and labels, such as “gun nut” or “anti-gun liberal”. Stop interpreting the second amendment to justify your viewpoint. Fourth, if the only reason certain individuals, groups, or organizations are involved is to “defend their turf”, they won’t be part of any solution. Real changes have to be based on compromise and acknowledging that the number of American deaths involving guns is unacceptable.

One priority is how law abiding citizens should not be penalized for following the law when criminals don’t. Whether you identify yourself as a proponent of “gun control” or are a supporter of “gun rights”, or even somewhere in the middle, no one can argue that there is not a flood of weapons in the hands of criminals. What to do?

  1. Destroy guns collected in buy back programs and guns confiscated after arrests when no longer needed for the legal process. Also, I read that some police departments are so strapped for cash to update their weapons that they sell their older guns to the public. Understandable, but unacceptable.
  2. Take advantage of technological advances that limit who can use a particular weapon, usually referred to as “personalized guns”, such as fingerprint scanners, etc.
  3. Administer harsher penalties for those in possession of illegal weapons or convicted of crimes involving firearms, as well as limits on gun ownership for those with previous convictions.

Assuming that we can’t wait to take action, a few specific steps may produce big results.

Since research shows the majority of gun related deaths are from suicides and accidents, institute a ten day waiting period nation wide to eliminate spontaneous purchases, and require gun owners to secure their guns in a locked safe or cabinet when they aren’t home. This should help to protect children and prevent thefts.

I’m tired of the “assault weapons” discussion. Guns designed for military use, with the express purpose of firing as many rounds as possible in the shortest amount of time, should not be available to the general public.

As to gun registration and the buying process, I know that different states have different requirements. However, we need to have some uniform principles that require a background check every time there is a new owner of a gun, including online and gun show sales, as well as the sale/gifting between friends or family members.

When an individual commits a crime, especially a gruesome one such as a mass shooting, we assume they have mental health issues. Certainly, we need to review our reporting and eliminate the possibility that these individuals should have access to guns. However, let’s make sure that we don’t simply see mental illness as causing all violent crime.

Finally, we must keep in mind that gun ownership is entrenched in American society and history and that’s not changing- there are many reasons why Americans choose to own a gun. The focus must be to address types of weapons owned, keeping track of who’s in possession of guns, and making sure that gun owners are both knowledgeable and well trained in the operation of their weapon.

For those who say that most gun owners are law abiding citizens, I believe this to be true. I wonder, though, how many crimes were committed by law abiding citizens until they were no longer law abiding citizens?