Monday, February 4, 2013

Reasonable Gun Control

I believe that one way to reduce the number of mass killings in our country is to 1) have reasonable gun control; 2) do a better job of treating mental illness; 3) reduce our culture of violence, particularly in the entertainment industry and the video game industry.  We need solutions to all three of these problems.   During the next two weeks I’m going to write a blog about each of these topics.
Today I’m writing about reasonable gun control.  I do this with some trepidation.  I have friends who strongly believe that gun-control is a waste of time.  I respect their views; however the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut were a tipping point.  If we can’t do something about gun control after such a horrific event, then I’m not sure what is going to prompt us to change.
Before I start let me say I don’t own a gun, I’ve never owned a gun, and have probably shot a gun less than five times in my life.  I believe that a person should have a constitutional right to bear arms.  I don’t believe in removing the 2nd Amendment.  I believe that hunters should be able to hunt.
I also think it was silly for President Obama to release a picture showing him skeet shooting last August.  Okay—now President Obama likes to skeet shoot.  He doesn’t become more intelligent about the issues surrounding gun violence because he knows how to point a gun and hit a clay pigeon.
Some statistics
According to ABC News 300 Americans die every day from gun violence.  Almost 23,000 people have been victims of gun violence in the last two years.
According to Christian Century 40 percent of all firearms purchased in the United States are sold without checking if the buyer has a record of crime, drug addiction, or mental illness.
The question that is driving my thoughts is, “what is reasonable when it comes to gun control?”
Is it reasonable to limit a gun clip to ten, or fifteen, or twenty bullets?  
The shooter who almost killed Gabbie Gifford did murder a young girl with the 12th clip in his gun.
Is it reasonable to have a background check for all firearms purchased in the country? 
Certainly this wouldn’t work all the time and wouldn’t stop the black-market of gun sales.  But we have procedures similar to background checks in other instances.  I can’t drive a car without passing a test and getting my license renewed every four or five years.  I’m not even proposing that gun owners have to have a license.  I’m just suggesting that a background check will stop guns from getting in the wrong hands in many situations.
Is it reasonable to ban semiautomatic rifles? 
I think so.   For discussion sake let’s say I need a semi-automatic weapon because I want to defend myself from a criminal.  How often will I need that gun?  Even if I was accosted by a criminal would my semi-automatic weapon help me in that situation?
If we passed reasonable gun control legislation the number of Americans who die every day from gun violence would decrease.  According to Christian Century after a 1996 mass shooting, Australia passed aggressive gun-control legislation which included the buyback of 600,000 semiautomatic weapons.  Gun homicides and suicides plummeted.  Australia hasn’t experienced a mass shooting since.
Polls show that Americans want something.  According to Christian Century 74% of NRA members and 84% of gun owners think submitting to a background check is a reasonable condition for gun ownership. 
I don’t think that reasonable gun control is the only solution to the issue of violence in America, but as Gabby Giffords eloquently said last week, “too many children are dying.” 
The next blog will be on the topic of doing a better job of treating mental illness

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