of U.S. Gun Laws
MASSACRE SUSPECT JAMES HOLMES
...Do I have a right to bear arms?
Should America let the gun lobby put us all in peril?
By RON MILLER
As the nation reacted with horror to the latest massacre by gunfire in Aurora, Colorado, I listened with nausea as several pundits voiced the opinion on Sunday television news programs that there was no need for a new national debate over gun control because the gun control argument was over and the gun lobby has won.
I don't accept that and I never will. I absolutely refuse to allow the National Rifle Assn. to dictate policy in this nation, especially when the NRA policy borders on insanity.
Of course, all Americans should realize that the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights guarantee us the right to bear arms.And we also all should know the U.S. Supreme Court has held that it is constitutional for government to impose "reasonable" limits on that right to guarantee public safety.
As far as I can tell, the NRA opposes all reasonable attempts to block lunatics from acquiring guns manufactured for the sole purpose of killing people. This powerful oreganization also opposes the enforcement of the gun control laws that already are on the books.
The NRA is so rich and so powerful that it immediately goes into action to unseat any U.S. Congressman who stands up for gun control. As a result, few elected officials are willing to vote their consciences on this subject. Only a handful, like the current mayor of New York City, are brave enough to defy the NRA and urge a return to sanity in our gun laws.
It clearly is time for a mammoth grass roots campaign to de-fang the NRA in the name of public safety. Who in this world really needs an assault weapon with a magazine capable of firing scores of armor-piercing bullets? To use such weaponry in hunting game is monstrously wrong. To use such weapons to defend yourself makes sense only in warfare. By allowing criminals to own such weapons, we render our own law enforcement people ever more vulnerable to attack.
Why would any sane person oppose laws requiring gun ownership to be restricted to people who can prove they're not mentally ill or convicted criminals? We accept the fact that we have to prove ourselves sane in order to drive an automobile? Why not permit such regulation of firearms ownership?
Did you hear the gun lobby spokesmen explaining the crazed murderer who walked into a movie theater with guns blazing this weekend might not have killed and wounded so many if more of us were armed with concealed weapons? Imagine the scene in that theater if everybody pulled out his or her own gun and started firing at everybody else with a gun. Imagine the slaughter when the cops showed up and tried to figure out who the nutcase with the gun was.
I owned a .22 caliber single-shot bolt action rifle when I was a teenager. In order to use it, I had to go to the police station to fire it at paper targets placed against a wall made of lead. One night some guys played a prank on me and followed me home from a movie in a strange car I didn't recognize. They were dressed in coats and wore masks. I was frightened. I took a detour through a field behind my house, went in the back door and got my gun. When I aaw the "men" creeping across our front lawn, I tried to open the front door to defend myself with my gun. I'd forgotten to unlock the door and I made so much noise trying to get it open that I alerted the pranksters, who jumped in their car and drove away. I often wonder what my life would be like today if I'd managed to open the door and fired my gun at them.
Lots of people get killed with .22 caliber rifles and pistols every day. Lots of those deaths are the result of accidental shootings caused by immature people who don't have proper training in use of guns--or are just scared like I was that time in my teen years. Lots of people get killed because somebody with a gun gets angry and loses his or her cool.
I'm a genuine anti-gun person for a lot of reasons. I've seen the suffering of a small bird or animal hit by a bullet. In this day and age, there is no reason to hunt and kill an animal in order to survive. If you relish the thrill of hunting an animal down in the wilderness, why not make it sporting and do it with a camera. Then your trophy is a beautiful photograph, not a head mounted on your wall.
If you really think you need a gun to defend against criminals, at least try to keep it in a safe place where children won't have access to it. And what's wrong with having that gun registered with the authorities so it can be traced if it's stolen. I'd even support mandatory ballistic tests for all guns sold in America so we know which guns were used to kill people, regardless of who owned them first.
I want the assault weapons ban restored and the Brady bill renewed. These are effective laws that, if enforced, would reduce gun violence. Regular searches for firearms shuuld be done on all convicted felons. In areas where gang activity is obvious, searches should be routine and regular--and those found with guns should be prosecuted and the guns destroyed.
My call for tougher gun regulation doesn't ignore the standard pitch of the gun lobby that it's the people who should be watched, not the guns. I think people who try to sell arms at gun shows or via the itnernet should be blocked from doing so. The Aurora killer apparently acquired all his weapons legally. What does that tell you about either the laws or the enforcement of them? It should have set off giant alarm bells when delivery vans turned up with huge boxes of ammo for this nutcase. Somebody should have taken notice of this building up of an arsenal, legal or not.
Maybe someday a nutcase will invade the national headquarters of the NRA and start blasting away at the top dogs of the gun lobby. I wonder if attitudes would change then or if the next generation of leaders would find some way to defend even that breand of lunacy.
©2012 by Ron Miller. The photo is courtesy of USA Today.com. This column first posted July 23, 2012.
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