Sticking to Your Guns

By Isabel Baer

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Is it necessary for the security of our country for a civilian (not a part of a well regulated militia) to possess a .50 caliber sniper rifle?

There is no point in trying to change the Second Amendment; it would be a futile fight. But it does need to be addressed that the makers of the Constitution designed this law when firearms consisted of muskets and single shot pistols in a well-regulated militia.

But it is now 2015. When 79% of Americans and 61% of gun owners support registration for handguns. 77% of NRA members favor a waiting period for the purchase of a handgun. 82% of Americans support limiting the sales of military-style assault weapons.

Since the vast majority of Americans support these proposals, why haven’t they been enacted? It is simple; the NRA controls the Republican Party as far as any reasonable gun regulation goes and all the legislators are petrified of crossing the NRA. While there is a Republican majority in Congress, our legislative branch of the government is controlled by the NRA.

Most members of the Grand Old Party argue that it is not guns that kill people but people who kill people. While this idea is true, there is no possible way to detect every person who is going to be the killer in a mass shooting. Just look at Patrick Purdy, a 26 year old Californian who opened fire in a playground at an elementary school. He used a legally purchased AK-47 assault rifle to kill six children and injure 29 others. He then killed himself with a legally purchased 9mm semiautomatic pistol. He had no history of mental illness, was never institutionalized and had no history of violence.

There is not a way to detect everyone who is ever going to use a semiautomatic firearm for mass shootings. So, maybe the solution lies in the selling and purchasing of these firearms, not the unrealistic idea of conducting a psychiatric exam of anyone trying to purchase an automatic weapon.

The solution is to stop selling weapons of war, but that has not happened. The reason: with congressional political support and NRA financial backing, gun manufacturers have been able to cleverly “transform” weapons designed for rapid spray shooting of enemy soldiers in wartime into weapons for homeland civilians.

Individuals do not need weapons that are designed to pierce concrete or penetrate armor. Yet, every time there is a mass shooting, gun purchases spike. It is not because people are scared for their lives but because gun owners are fearful that lawmakers are finally going to make it harder for them to buy more guns. The number of guns in civilian hands has been increasing while the percentage of American households that own guns has been on the decrease. This is a result of gun owners stock piling weapons; the average number of guns a gun owner possesses has gone from 4.1 (1994) to 6.9 (2004). There is no reason for a gun owner to own seven rifles while only one is needed for hunting, or five handguns when only one is needed for self defense, or two semiautomatic weapons when zero are needed.

But people do have these guns and in large amounts, so something needs to be done to protect those that mourn the consequences. Citizens have to have a license to drive a car and insurance to own a car. A Car. Not an instrument to murder people. It is more restrictive to drive than to shoot.  Why aren’t there at least the same requirements for buying a gun as there are for buying and driving a car? Can there possibly be a legitimate reason for allowing people on the terrorist watch list to purchase a firearm? While Republicans are worried about maintaining “due process” for gun purchasers, they propose blanket bans on Islamic refugees.

The time for action is now. There is no excuse for lawmakers to not enact regulations that a super majority of Americans support.

 

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