The time for gun-control debate is now
July 27, 2012
The American debate over stricter gun-control laws is as old as it is tiresome. Passions abound on both sides of the argument: Pro-gun advocates don’t want opponents to trample on their Second Amendment rights, and those who believe easy access to guns leads to senseless tragedies (such as the recent incident in an Aurora movie theater) are appalled by what they view as the gun lobby’s lack of consideration for the loss of life.
One would think, and hope, that last week’s tragedy in Colorado – 12 were killed and dozens more injured by a troubled young man who reportedly equated himself with Batman’s nemesis, the Joker – would revive the gun-control debate. But that’s unlikely to happen in a presidential election year, with both major-party candidates expressing shock and regret over the Aurora incident but lacking the political guts to admit that tighter restrictions on gun and ammunition purchases are the necessary route toward ending the cycle of violence that pervades American society.
For a large segment of U.S. voters, gun control (or their disdain for it) is simply a deal-breaker, and neither the Republicans nor the Democrats holding power want to run the risk of upsetting them.
We aren’t advocating repeal of the Second Amendment. We aren’t saying that responsible people who own weapons for hunting or for reasons of personal safety should lose that right. All we are saying – and we admit it’s become a trite expression – is that U.S. citizens of all walks of life need to “give peace a chance” by revisiting the debate over stronger gun-control laws with an open mind (and less ferocity).
According to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (www.brady
campaign.com), 97,820 people are shot in America each year on average. Two hundred sixty-eight are shot every day. These are appalling figures and ought to be taken seriously. The argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” – another trite expression – doesn’t hold water.
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It’s infinitely easier to kill someone with a gun than with a knife, a fist or some other means.
The Brady Center points out that Colorado residents voted overwhelmingly to require background checks on all gun-show sales in November 2000. Still, Colorado elected officials have done nothing more to protect its residents from gun violence. In fact, according to the center, Colorado scores only 15 points out of 100 on an annually published state-by-state gun-control scorecard.
The state has no ban on assault weapons, no ban on high-capacity ammunition clips, no background checks for online gun sales or person-to-person gun transactions, no “good cause” provision for concealed-weapon-permit applicants and no limit on the number of handguns that can be bought in a single purchase.
Brady Center President Dan Gross called the Aurora tragedy “another grim reminder that guns are the enablers of mass killers and that our nation pays an unacceptable price for our failure to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.” Sympathy for the victims isn’t enough, he stressed.
“We want action,” he added. “Political cowardice is not an excuse for evasion and inaction on this life-and-death issue.”
We couldn’t agree more. A society in which all Americans are safer, no matter where they are, should be something for which we all should strive. If that means more stringent background checks, a reduction in the types of arms available for sale and limits on the numbers of guns and the amount of ammunition that can be purchased within a certain time period, so be it.
For information on how to get involved in the drive for stricter gun laws, visit the http://www.wearebetterthanthis.org. We have to start somewhere.