Drawing a line on guns not likely, but the conversation must happen

Dan Chmielewski asked on Friday “When are we going to have a meaningful conversation about Gun Control?” His question was asked in the midst of the news of the shootings hitting our TV’s, emails, tweets, and Facebook messages. Now that smoke of gunfire has cleared the answer to Dan’s question seems clear.

There will never be a good time to talk about gun control.

It was clear even four days earlier when Jon Stewart addressed the question.

On Saturday, we had a gunman fire 50-rounds in the air in the parking lot of the Fashion Island Macy’s store.So if there’s never going to be a good time then we may as well start now.

Aside from the usual complaints that “liberals” are using tragedy to promote gun control, we have 2nd Amendment activists clamoring that if only the principal, or teachers, had a gun the tragedy could have been ended sooner than the self-inflicted wound to the gunman’s head provided.

Jeff Gallagher

December 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm 

“While you can complain about gun control, remember that Connecticut has some of the most stringent gun laws on the books. That is why you did not see a legion of gun toting CCW teachers defending their kids. Since so-called gun control is reactive and not proactive, perhaps we are looking at this from the wrong angle.”

From Huffington Post:

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) made the case Sunday that the answer to preventing massacres in the U.S. is for more Americans to carry guns.

“There has been great investigation and study into this,” Gohmert told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, arguing that mass killings happen where citizens tend to be unarmed. “They choose this place [because] they know no one will be armed.”

Gohmert argued that the mass slaughter would have gone differently if Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung had been armed.

“Chris, I wish to God she had had an m-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out … and takes him out and takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” Gohmert said.

homersimpsongunSomehow I don’t think the answer to the problem is gun-carrying teachers in classrooms.

If we have learned anything from our nations collective fascination with guns, it is that our 2nd Amendment right guarantees that people who have guns legally, sometimes use them illegally. When that happens, innocent people die. We know that high capacity magazines for automatic and semi-automatic weapons make their use on innocent people more devastating.

I grew up with my uncles going hunting for deer every year. I don’t recall them needing a high-powered automatic rifle to take down a buck. I have a half-brother and uncle who are ex-army officers. I don’t think they were ever wanted to take home a military grade weapon in care they were called to join a militia.

I am not advocating that we change our constitution to ban all guns. But I do think that we need to apply some rational controls on access to assault weapons, and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The argument that since the stringency of existing gun laws was ineffective to prevent misuse means the the answer is that everyone should carry guns is absurd. The weakness of gun and ammunition control laws does not mean they are useless. It means they need to be strengthened to improve their effectiveness.

In addition to limiting access to military-grade hardware, we must address the need for universal access to appropriate mental health services for all in our communities. While this won’t stop all instances of gun violence, it will at a minimum provide an additional layer of protection for our society.

shoe-bomberpsdWhen a terrorist tried to light his shoes packed with a small amount of explosives on an airplane, we forced everyone to take off their shoes for inspection before boarding airplanes.

For me the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut is personal. I have a nephew who’s an elementary school teacher. I don’t want him carrying around a handgun in his classroom and I don’t want him confronted with the same tragedy as the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The least we can do as a society is apply the same level of scrutiny to access to guns and ammunition as we do shoe bombs on airplanes.

  2 comments for “Drawing a line on guns not likely, but the conversation must happen

  1. December 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Chris, I don’t advocate that teachers begin carrying in the classroom. For one thing, most teachers I know are not amenable to firearms.

    I do see this as a need and opportunity to discuss the real problem, mental health and the access by the mentally ill to firearms due to law enforcement’s failure to enforce existing law. Another law on the books prohibiting the possession of assault weapons will prevent law abiding citizens from accessing them (maybe when they need them most) but will do nothing to stop a mentally ill person from stealing a legal weapon that was improperly stored. Likewise, a law requiring weapons to be properly stored will only be enforced when something like this has happened and authorities arrest the person responsible after the incident. A little too late in my opinion.

    Frankly, you and other liberals (and some conservatives) do not want gun control – you want a total gun ban. But, we have seen in Katrina, exactly what this government is capable of when they can willfully confiscate guns to create marshal law, exactly what the 2nd Amendment is all about (sorry, Dan, you are wrong). Ask Bloomberg and the Brady Bunch. They do not want control, they want a ban.

    Guns, as Dan points out in another post, are not the main issue. Mental health is, as noted here.

    In relation to gun control, how about we enforce current gun laws including registration requirements and a requirement to force mental health practitioners to report mentally ill patients to law enforcement the same as domestic violence offenders are reported?

    • December 17, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Actually Jeff, I do not support a total ban on gun ownership. The only additional level of regulation I suggest is restricting the types of weapons we are allowed to possess. High-capacity magazines, assault weapons, these should be banned.

      I agree that we need to enforce existing gun regulations, but none of those would have prevented the most recent tragedy’s. In fact, at this point there is no indication that any gun regulations went unenforced.

      In his remarks in Newtown, CT yesterday President Obama said:

      “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.”

      “We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.”

      “If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try.”

      “In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine.”

      We need to draw a line and take meaningful action to make such tragedy’s as rare as possible; to make access to guns by people who are mentally unstable unattainable; to take the most lethal and pointless guns out of reach.

      These are the things we must do.

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