It’s (Way Past) Time For Meaningful Gun Control Legislation

America, 2010’s. Another mass shooting leaving students and educators dead at their school. More thoughts and prayers. More defense of the guns themselves from the NRA crowd. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” More “why don’t we ban cars, hammers, etc.”. More “it’s a mental health issue” followed by more cuts for mental health services.

More of the same. Something needs to change.

Reasonable people, of which I am one, understand it’s not just guns. No question there’s a mental health aspect to all of this. I also understand that most gun owners, particularly here in North and South Dakota and northern Minnesota, are responsible, good people. Sadly the price of loose gun laws that vary widely from state-to-state has become far too high.

San Bernardino. 16 dead, 24 injured. A work event. 

Orlando. 50 dead. 58 injured. A nightclub.

Sutherland Springs. 27 dead. 20 injured. A church.

Las Vegas. 59 dead. 851 injured. A concert. 

Stoneman Douglas High School Parkland, FL. 17 dead. 15 injured. A high school. 

177 dead. 968 injured. Thousands of survivors and family members left behind, scarred for life. All from December 2015 to February 14 2018.

We need to start somewhere to try and stop this.

Here’s what I would like to see happen.

Raise The Legal Age To Be Able To Purchase All Guns to 21

Can anyone think of a good reason an 18-year-old NEEDS to buy a gun? Me neither. Raise the tobacco age to 21 while we’re at it.

Semi-Automatic Rifle Ban

These guns need to go. Legal (or illegal) gun owners can turn them in and will be reimbursed by the taxpayers in a buy-back program. If you don’t turn them in, you’ll face stiff penalties if you’re caught in possession of one. Yes, I know, I know, there was once an assault weapons ban and the crime stats didn’t show it changed much. The last 5 mass shootings, including two of the worst in the history of the United States, have all been committed using semi-automatic rifles. These weapons have no real purpose on the streets of America. Plus, when you examine the details of that “ban”, it really wasn’t. Time to make serious laws that end semi-automatic rifles for good, not just for a 10 year period and then the laws disappear.

End Gun Shows 

Guns aren’t boats and pontoons. Guns should only be bought and sold at brick and mortar locations where licensed, vetted owners facilitate the exchange. Why on Earth do we need to take the guns from a secure environment inside a secure building, have people loading them into vehicles, driving to whatever convention center/auditorium, unloading the guns and then setting them out on some flimsy card tables for a couple of days? How many parts of that scenario lend themselves to the guns being stolen or otherwise unaccounted for? These aren’t car stereos and cordless phones. Again, I get it. Most of these gun owners are very responsible, licensed individuals who take their gun stock seriously. They do their very best to keep it secure at all times. Still, this is nuts. Guns are built to kill. We can’t have them traveling around like they’re the circus. These are guns. Let’s do the right thing and try and keep bulk amounts of guns from being mobile and in a less secure environment. Plus, c’mon, you know there has to be some occasional parking lot deals that go on. Some “meet me after” type stuff. Again, not saying it’s the norm, probably less than 2% of the time, but if that 1 gun kills 1 person is this change worth it? It is.

More vetting/longer background check process

You’ll need to wait for your gun. If you’re a new purchaser, it may be a lot longer than if you’re someone who purchases regularly. Think of a system like TSA PreCheck. The longer the process, the less chance someone who shouldn’t be allowed to buy a gun won’t get their hands on one. More time in a standardized federal system would be a key component in keeping guns out of the hands of those that shouldn’t have them.

All Gun Transactions Will Be Facilitated By A Licensed Dealer or Government Bureau

We need to keep better track of who owns guns and hold them to an even higher level of accountability. The first step in that process is knowing who owns each gun from the time it rolls off the line at the manufacturer. Often times the argument is that it’s not the legal guns, it’s the black market guns that are used in many crimes. Well, there is no “The Black Market Factory” that makes guns. There aren’t two sets of shipping bays at gun manufacturers. “Oh, hey Charlie, no, you’re in the legal loads bay. You’re pick-up is over there in the black market bays.” All guns start off at the manufacturer as a legal gun. Somewhere, at some point, they end up on the black market as an illegal gun. The only way to keep the guns off the black market is to make sure there is higher accountability in keeping track of them in the legal market.

More accountability to gun owners who have guns stolen, are careless with guns in their possession

We need strong rules about gun ownership and consequences for stolen or otherwise misplaced guns. For the manufacturer’s, tightening rules of how guns are manufactured and making sure there is a way to track them. If you want to own a gun, you need to be responsible for it at all times. Think of it as a child. Same type of responsibility. You’re 100% responsible for it. Unlike an actual child, it never turns 18.

Get rid of this lunacy. If you want to manufacture and profit from something that’s main purpose is to be destructive, you need to be ready to pay up when people are killed.

There is no one quick fix to what’s going on. Also, the people saying we have a mental health problem in this country aren’t wrong. As frustrating as it is when some say any further gun regulation is a non-starter, I’m equally frustrated when some say it’s just guns. It’s not, but you also can’t deny that without the gun you can’t mass shoot.

I’m not advocating the ban of all guns, just the ones that are clearly the most dangerous in terms of the ability to quickly kill many human beings. I’m advocating a better system of keeping track of all guns and owners. These laws will help keep guns off the black market. They will help keep legal guns out of the hands of those that shouldn’t own guns because of criminal pasts or questionable behavior by giving the background system more time to vet them. These laws working together are common sense.

After any mass shooting there is outrage, sadness and anger. I believed that after Sandy Hook, where 1st grade children were murdered in cold blood by a semi-automatic rifle wielding psychopath, I thought for sure something would finally happen. Nothing. I was shocked. I figured if nothing happened then, after the systematic murder of dozens of 6-year-old children, nothing will ever happen.

What happened in Parkland is different in one way. In Parkland, the classmates left behind aren’t small children. They are young adults with loud voices and the platforms to be heard. Try as the NRA bought politicians might, these kids won’t be ignored. They won’t go quietly. They won’t soon forget the sound of the gunfire in their school. They won’t soon forget being in the chaos and wondering if they’d be hit next. Texting their family goodbye. Not knowing if they’d live or die in the moment. Classmates dying or already dead in pools of blood right next to them.

A legal gun owner with his legal AR 15 just thrust these kids right into the heart of the 2018 election. Which will be louder? NRA dollars or the kids of Parkland? We’re about to find out.

 

 

 

 

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