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It’s Never Too Soon to Discuss These 5 Ways to Curb Gun Violence

It’s Never Too Soon to Discuss These 5 Ways to Curb Gun Violence

We certainly can’t talk about how to address gun violence. With details still emerging about the horrific murder of at least 27 people, including at least 20 children, at an elementary school in Newton, Connecticut, we can’t possibly discuss the fact that the killer was armed with at least two handguns and fired as many as 100 shots in his killing spree before either being killed or killing himself. It’s way too soon. We’d be politicizing this.

At least that’s the story. But if we don’t discuss gun violence, we ignore the fact that guns may not kill people, but they certainly make it easier to kill people. We don’t talk about the similar events just in the past few months, nor the fact that since the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, America has had twice as many school shootings as all other nations on Earth combined.

But we have to discuss these things, because the alternative is to ignore some simple steps we could take to avoid tragedies like this. Yes, that may “politicize” the shooting, but refusing to talk about it is an abdication of our responsibility.

1. Criminal and Mental Health Background Checks on All Gun Sales

The federal government already mandates background checks on people seeking to buy weapons through licensed dealers. Unfortunately, there’s a loophole the size of Texas in the law. If you buy your weapon from an unlicensed dealer — at a gun show, over Craigslist, from some shady character on a street corner — you don’t have to go through a background check.

Since about 40 percent of guns are sold by private sellers, this means that a huge percentage of weapons sold are moving around legally with no background check required. Don’t want a felon to get a weapon, or someone with a history of violence and mental illness? Tough. Right now, all it takes for them to get their hands on a weapon is to go to a gun show.

Needless to say, this pretty much obliterates the effectiveness of a background check requirement. If you can’t pass a background check, you just have to find someone on the internet selling what you want. This also makes it easy for people to make a living as resellers — buying guns legally, then selling them to people who would fail a background check.

Requiring a background check on all gun sales would make it much harder for criminals to get their hands on guns, which seems like an obviously good thing — and the reason we need to talk about this.

2. Reducing the Size of Magazines on Weapons

Jared Loughner, who shot at dozens people including Gabby Giffords, had access to extended gun magazines, which let him fire 31 shots in just 15 seconds. Loughner was stopped when he ran out of ammo and tried to change magazines, giving bystanders the chance to subdue him; had he run out of ammo sooner, he would have been stopped sooner.

High-capacity magazines are important if you’re trying to kill a bunch of people quickly. They’re very useful for soldiers. For your average gun-owner, though, they’re simply unnecessary. If you’re using a handgun for self-defense, the guy you’re aiming at is going to be no more dissuaded if you can shoot him 30 times than he would be if you could shoot him six.

Reducing the size of magazines, especially on handguns, would make guns less useful for spree shooters. It may not prevent every gun death, but it would limit the damage one lone evil-doer could do.

3. Microstamping

Someone is shot and killed, and police have the bullet, but the perpetrator is long-gone. Fortunately, that bullet has a record of the gun that fired it engraved upon it. All police have to do is check a database, and then they can find the last registered gun-owner and start tracing the weapon.

Science fiction? No, it’s microstamping, and the technology to make it happen exists already. Essentially, the process uses a laser to etch a specific design on a gun’s firing pin. The designs are registered and unique to each gun; whenever the gun is fired, it then leaves a unique identifier on each bullet.

This is no problem for gun owners who aren’t shooting and killing people, or even gun owners who use their weapons in legitimate self-defense. Law-breakers, though, can be tracked down, making it harder to get away with murder. It might make someone think twice before drawing their weapon.

4. Reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban

There was a time when some of the worst weapons on the street today were illegal. Weapons designed to kill people were outlawed by federal law; the big magazines that Loughner used were banned. The Assault Weapons Ban was passed in 1994, and for 10 years, it made it harder to buy a gun that could take out a small army.

Alas, the bill was written with a sunset clause, and in 2004, when the ban expired, Republicans chose not to reinstate it. This allowed Americans the chance to buy AK-47s and Uzis once more.

Obviously, the Assault Weapons Ban doesn’t end all gun violence, but it makes it a little harder to commit mass murder.

5. Requiring Gun Owners to Be Licensed

Gun proponents often compare guns to cars, noting that cars kill lots of people, and they’re still legal, so why not guns? Leaving aside the obvious fact that cars aren’t designed to kill people, there’s something to this argument. It’s just not what gun proponents think it is.

As anyone who has driven knows, in order to legally get behind the wheel of a car — a machine that, if used carelessly, can be deadly — you have to secure a license showing you’re competent to drive. This license can be suspended or revoked if you violate the law, effectively removing your privileges to legally drive.

Why not a license for gun owners, demonstrating that they are indeed responsible, sober people who are aware of the danger presented by firearms? The license could cover different classes of weapons, and would demonstrate that a gun owner was educated enough, say, not to keep his gun under his pillow where his four-year-old could get to it.

Requiring a license to own a gun would make it harder for criminals to own weapons, and easier to get guns out of the hands of criminals. And just like gun owners say, it’s just like what we do with cars. It’s a simple and obvious way to mitigate gun violence.

When Will It Be Time?

Of course, there are those who will complain that talking about gun violence is gauche so soon after a terrible tragedy has happened. To these people, though, it will always be too early to discuss gun violence. The National Rifle Association, the most important pro-gun lobbying group, is supported strongly by gun manufacturers. The simple, common-sense gun restrictions wouldn’t make it much harder for responsible, law-abiding people to buy guns and ammunition, but it would make it much harder for people with criminal records to. This might dent profits, and that is something that the NRA refuses to countenance.

As long as guns are readily-available to anyone who wants them, there will be incidents like the Sandy Hook shooting, and as long as incidents keep happening regularly, it will always be “too soon” to “politicize” the shootings. At some point, though, we have to recognize that it is not too soon to begin this discussion. It’s too late — too late for the dozens killed Friday, for the people killed in Wisconsin and Colorado, for all the people killed in smaller, less-publicized gun crimes. It is past time that we begin this discussion; every time we fail to do so, we make the next dead child inevitable.

Take Action: Tell Obama we need to talk about gun control NOW.

 

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415 comments

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3:36PM PST on Feb 27, 2013

Several of you have done a fine job of applying reason to the problem of numerous people accepting the misguided idea that guns are responsible for crime and that draconian restrictions or outright prohibition would solve the problem. By that 'logic', Chicago, Detroit, and Washington D.C. should be some of the safest places on the planet. They also overlook the facts that murder is already illegal, and that criminals have been prohibited from possessing guns since the gun control act of 1968. While they are at it, they had better outlaw smuggling as well, given that it has been demonstrated that by outlawing the domestic production and importation of any item it can be eliminated, as evidenced by the fact that there are no illegal drugs in the United States.

I would also point out that those who push anti-gun legislation often do not believe in what they are telling you. Many of them have armed security. I would consider giving up body parts for Dianne Feinstein's personal gun collection. You have seen the props she uses in her anti-gun speeches? Those are all her own personal guns--yet she tell you that no one should own such things (except for the patricians).

9:33AM PST on Jan 24, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

3:33PM PST on Jan 19, 2013

I think the way Obama set the tone for gun regulations was fantastic. He appointed the VP who sat down with as many people, organizations and commercial ventures as possible. The VP solicited and heard the suggestions and fears, the negative and positive views. In the end, a large initial stage bill was introduced. I suggest the word initial due to the fact, these were immediate sanctions with future fine-tuning in all areas.

Until the Sandy Hook shootings happened, I had blissfully watched my TV programs without really watching the attached ratings at the beginning of each show. Now I am horrified by the number of regular TV shows with warnings of violence. If we are to find some balance within our society, we need to investigate TV shows, videos and comic books demonstrating violence, horrific shooting actions and basically with a belief the good guy wins and becomes a hero. All this negative influence has determined just how we view ourselves. No respect for human beings, property and legality.

I wish everyone would take a breath and realize we can make logically positive changes without trampling anyone's rights. This is not the time to defend emotionally based prejudgements. Simply stated I believe education and open conversations will be the fairest way to go. We know in advance, we will not be able to satisfy everyone, however I trust and pray we can find a meeting ground and grow from there. We have turned a blind eye to unwarranted violence in our so

12:36AM PST on Dec 31, 2012

post continued

You would do everyone, most especially yourself, some good if you got an actual education on the topic instead of regurgitating anti-gun nut lies.

12:34AM PST on Dec 31, 2012

Annmari L. posted "Why is it, you can buy a gun at age 16, but have to wait till you're 21 to buy a beer?
And why in h**l is it legal to buy assault rifles when they are useless for hunting and target practice? They are made for one purpose alone: To kill."

Annmari, no one in this country can legally buy any firearm at age 16, and the drinking age while a fun topic is not relevant especially in the way you tried to use it. You ask why are assault weapons legal? Why are Ferraris? I mean who needs a car that can go almost 200 mph? Tell me do you ever complain about that? You then go on to make an asinine statement about target shooting and hunting with assault weapons. What do you know about it? Are you a hunter? are you a target shooter? I bet the answer is no on both counts because if you were then you wouldn't have posted such a stupid statement. Here's the truth, you can target shoot with an assault weapon, and you can even hunt with one. Most game on the North American continent can be bagged with a .223 or 7.62 round assault weapon. Here's another truth, assault weapons are not a problem in America. Real assault weapons make up only tenths of one percent of guns used in crime. None of which were registered civilian assault weapons. All were either illegally imported, converted, or stolen, usually from a gov't source not a private citizen. You would do everyone, most especially yourself, some good if you got an actual education on the topic instead of regurgitating ant

2:21PM PST on Dec 30, 2012

Annmari- the age is 18, which I agree is prob too young (unless in military or police or other job requirement) but also... just what IS a "semi-automatic assault rifle?" The prob is, it's whatever someone wants to think it is. If the gun looks 'scary,' then it's an assault rifle. It's pretty silly. And we all sure as hell know we can't depend on our govt to define things for us.... Oh, and, I've seen people w/permits shoot full-auto guns but I've NEVER seen one even so much as pointed at a another human- always just target shooting. B/c it's FUN! People seem to miss this point. But full-auto is illegal!!! I've only seen a couple in my life- usually at ranges where they had them to rent, etc...

1:59PM PST on Dec 30, 2012

San Jose, CA police officer Leroy Pile made this video 6 years ago called the Truth about Firearms. This is a very educational video as in these 10 minutes he intends to educate the public away from the sensationalism of News Medias to the actual truth and facts about the topic at hand. He begins his video by asking all viewers to please set emotions aside and please just concentrate on the facts so we can make an all-around educated assessment on the subject of firearms without the outer injections from a News Media Opinion so each individual can freely compose their own opinion from the facts.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjM9fcEzSJ0

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/thousands-of-l-a-citizens-choose-groceries-over-handguns.html#ixzz2GZi9MeAy

1:45PM PST on Dec 30, 2012

less POS to worry about later...

"As for Del's comment re background checks, a good percentage of guns are sold illegally without checks"

Only used guns, unless talking about the gov't like the ATF pushing dealers to illegally sell to straw-purchasers to get guns across the border, like they did. Otherwise, BS like the "gun show loophole," etc, are really a little overboard. Sure, the shows bring people together who therwise wouldn't be able to buy & sell as easily, but... All dealers at those shows MUST have FFL & sell w/background checks. Otherwise, it's person to person used guns for sale. Much like you selling your car to someone else privately. It's an over-played media propoganda tool. And, there are laws on selling used guns too. Many are broken, but that's the whole point. Those who don't mind breaking the law, don't care to stop...

"I don't care if Americans have guns but I just hate to see senseless deaths...."

That last part was an excellent post & an argument of your's that I agree with COMLETELY! I only cut it short b/c I hate having to post so many times & get cut off, but... Thank you!

1:39PM PST on Dec 30, 2012

Linda M- I'm sory- I did not see your reply...

"Robby, the Bushmaster that Lanza had can fire 4-6 / sec."

Yeah? Try it... (sincerely). It's a SEMI-auto. Even in the hands of the fastest shooters on earth, modified revolvers can fire ~4/sec. But you're not going to find many people who can even squeeze a shortened, lightened, trigger more than ~3/sec, much less w/something coming out the barrel & even semi-acurrately- unless there is something about the Bushmaster I don't know... Sounds like it may have been in the trunk the whole time anyway- (media discrepancies)...

"How do YOU know that several people firing in the theatre might not have killed more innocents?"

I don't. And I don't care. What I do know & care about is that some psychopath went postal & killed innocent people. Had another person or two been armed, MAYBE they could've saved some (or even just one) life. Like this:

http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2012/12/media-quiet-about-san-antonio-theater-shooting-2524596.html

And no one here will respond to the would-be slumber partty massacre, STOPPED by an armed dad...

http://thisainthell.us/blog/?p=33357

Both of these just happened, but the liberal media only shows you bad things people use guns for but for every bad thing, you can find several good ones, where a gun saved- often w/out a shot even being fired. And if they were? Well, who cares if someone was trying to rob or hurt an innocent person & got dropped? Just one les

1:37PM PST on Dec 30, 2012

Why is it, you can buy a gun at age 16, but have to wait till you're 21 to buy a beer?
And why in h**l is it legal to buy assault rifles when they are useless for hunting and target practice? They are made for one purpose alone: To kill.

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