One month ago 26 people, of which 20 were children, were taken from us by a man with an assault rifle. The man was given the opportunity to access weapons by a gun owner who failed to understand the potential threat of keeping guns in the home, even though she was so concerned about her son that she was allegedly attempting to have him committed.
Asking for common sense in the ownership, availability and use of a gun is NOT a political agenda. Our pledge is “and liberty for ALL.” Not “liberty for me because I own a gun.” Liberty requires a citizen to act responsibly and most importantly respect all the other citizens of this country. Somehow many gun owners seem to have forgotten that part of being an American.
Fifty years ago I saw a bumper sticker that said, “When guns are outlawed, only OUTLAWS will have guns.” The National Rifle Association (NRA) and some wacko gun owners keep shoving this in the face of America. The problem is that it is not the ‘outlaws’ who are threatening our lives, but irresponsible gun owners. Easy access to guns, especially in urban environments, coupled with weapons that are dangerous for citizens to own is not protecting our liberty, but rather is increasing the likelihood of death and serious injury for all Americans.
In addition, the strong-arm tactics of the NRA is crippling our government from taking common sense actions that are desperately needed.
There are six steps that are necessary to keep Americans safe:
Ban on ownership of assault-type weapons and high-capacity magazines
The need for renewing the ban of assault-type weapons and high-capacity magazines has been demonstrated over and over, with each violent event costing innocent lives.
Assault-type (automatic and semi-automatic) weapons give the shooter the ability to spray multiple bullets on a target in seconds. A person must train extensively with an assault-type weapon in order to know when and when not to shoot. Citizens do not have the expertise to use such weapons without endangering innocent people.
In addition, these weapons are often used on law enforcement personnel which means we are encouraging ‘outlaws,’ (aka; our neighbor with a gun and a grudge) by giving them the means to attack the very people who are actually supposed to protect the rest of us.
Strict limitations on conceal and carry permits
Carrying a gun in public is extremely dangerous and most training is inadequate. Gun training organizations acknowledge this:
…”because concealed carry courses required for issue of a CC permit fail to give students the proper skills to safely carry a concealed weapon…”
ALASTAR TDS-C, NC Gun Training Website
Conceal and Carry means that a gun is easily accessible which means that a person might be tempted to use it before understanding the situation. Even under the best circumstances, firing a gun with other people in the area is risking the safety of innocent people.
In 2012, police in New York wounded nine innocent people when confronted by another man with a gun. Certainly a citizen carrying a gun with little or training is not a solution to street crime and in most situations would add to the confusion of crime by pulling out a gun even if it were only in self-defense.
In addition, gun training should be standardized and only licensed trainers should be allowed to teach gun safety. In at least one all day gun training program in Reno, Nevada, one of the instructors spent much of his time ranting about his dislike for President Obama and shared his conspiracy theories about what the current administration was planning to do to gun ownership. The only people making gun ownership a political agenda are gun owners.
Conceal and carry permits should all expire by June 30, 2013, and renewed only if extraordinary circumstances indicated that the citizen needed, and was qualified to use a gun in a public place. In those circumstances the person should be required to be recertified every six month with at least four hours of training in the use of firearms in public situations.
Secret Service Consulting and Training for Schools
We do not need another TSA-like division of the federal government; however, the federal government does have unique qualifications in the area of observing situations for possible threats. Secret Service agents are experts in assessing and taking action to neutralize violent threats.
Acting as consultants and trainers, the Secret Service could create a division with a five to ten-year mandate to work with school district and school staff across the United States in assessing and identifying potential threats. They also could offer classes similar to train law enforcement and school security threat assessment techniques, similar to what the FBI offers to private business leaders and security personnel at Quantico, VA.
Background checks on 100% of gun sales/exchanges
This is a no-brainer. The problem is that a background check doesn’t address future mental breaks, or temporary emotional triggers that could lead to violence.
Financial liability to gun owner and gun sellers for guns used in criminal acts.
Most gun owners are responsible. Most. The threat is not from ‘outlaw’ as the NRA suggests, but from the irresponsible gun owner. We can take steps to attempt to prevent an innocent citizen from being harmed by the direct or indirect act of an irresponsible gun owner, but their must be a consequence in order to discourage the idea that a gun owner can wash his or her hands of a situation that they could have prevented. To do this we need to link the gun owner to the crime committed by the use of his or her gun.
A person should be responsible for any crime committed with their gun both during their ownership, and within 18 months after they sell, trade, give, or lose their gun. The exceptions would be as follows:
- The gun is stolen even though the owner took due diligence in securing their gun.
- The gun is donated to a recognized government law enforcement agency.
Financial liability should be no less that $100,000 per incident and have criminal penalties for repeat offenders.
NRA Tax Exempt Status
The NRA has held America hostage for decades and has been able to harass our elected officials into complacency, while at the same time being exempt from paying taxes. They have enjoyed preventing government action to protect our citizens as they steal from the citizens by not paying their fair share to support our citizen-run government. This is unacceptable.
As of December 14, 2012, the NRA should be declared by the IRS to by a for profit organization and all contributions be declared as taxable. In addition, all organizations involved in lobbying and/or contributing to politicians, or politically associated organizations on behalf of gun manufacturers, owners, enthusiasts, or gun-related activities should not be considered for 501(c)3 status, or any other tax exempt status.
This should only apply to gun oriented organizations attempting to influence politicians and/or legislation.
These six actions would address the key issues that threaten American citizens, while still allowing for responsible citizens to maintain their rights to own guns. It’s time common sense returned and trumped blind stupidity.