Each time I hear of yet another incident of gun violence, I think back to the very first thing that caught my eye as I entered the grounds of the Ames, Iowa Republican Party Presidential Straw Poll in the summer of 2011. Three young children, I would guess between the ages of 4-7, sporting day-glow orange baseball caps with "NRA" imprinted atop and round stickers on their small T-shirts announcing "GUNS SAVE LIVES."
But, really, do these "guns save lives"? Do laws expanding gun possession, concealed or not, actually "save lives"? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gun-related violence has reached epidemic proportions in our country by snuffing out the lives of upwards of 30,000+ people and wounding many more annually. On average, guns end the lives of more than 80 people in the United States every day. Each year, gun violence affects over 100,000 people in some way. Many of the guns used in these killings reach military level weapons power, guns which currently remain legal. Today in the United States, there are 88.8 firearms per 100 people.
Of the estimated 70+ mass murders in the United States since 1982, most of the shooters obtained their weapons legally. Demographically, the shooters in all but one case involved males, usually white, with an average age of 35 years.
Should any limits be placed on the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which reads: "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"?
We seem somehow only to spout the second clause in that sentence while forgetting the first, especially the term "well-regulated"!
I propose that we reevaluate the political Right's obsession with the so-called "freedom" to bear arms because it is not only "criminals who kill people" as Second Amendment advocates claim. Therefore,
• We must ban and criminalize the possession of automatic and semi-automatic weapons!
• We must close loopholes such as buying a weapon at a gun show!
• We must ban the purchase of firearms and ammunition on the internet!
• We must increase the waiting period and make background checks more rigorous and effective!
• We must limit the number of firearms any individual can own!
• We must limit the number of bullets any firearm clip can hold!
• We must ban and criminalize the purchase and possession of armor piercing bullets, and also hollow-tip bullets!
• We must rethink the "logic" of permitting concealed weapons, especially in places like houses of worship, colleges, bars, restaurants, and political rallies!
• We must interface all data bases monitoring firearm ownership to assess the firearm-owning population more accurately and effectively!
I also believe that even our flawed "founding fathers" did not want unlimited and unrestricted rights to bear arms. Even if they did advocate for unrestricted gun ownership, these are the same men who owned slaves, committed genocide against and expelled native peoples, withheld enfranchisement from women, engaged in and killed one another in duels, and so on. Actually, I'm really surprised the National Rifle Association hasn't advocated for the return of lethal dueling matches. Maybe that's next on their agenda.
As we all know, in the current political climate, the chances for comprehensive common sense gun control in the United States is only a pipe dream as long as the National Rifle Association controls Congress and state legislatures, for if they did not, we would have seen effective laws passed years ago resulting in countless lives saved.
Nevertheless, this insanity in our system of gun laws must end. Enough is enough is enough is enough already! Actually, it is far past that time.