Leave time to mourn? Bullshit. The idea that the media and popular culture shouldn't be speaking about the abhorrent gun violence problem that we have in our country is wrongheaded. It is a narrative only pursued by those who want emotions to cool so they can try to make some baseless argument that our gun laws are good enough.
How much evidence do we need? How many of our brothers and sisters have to die? How many of our sons and daughters have to be violently and randomly attacked before enough is enough or the time is right to have this discussion?
I'm tired of the stale conversation in our country about gun violence. On one side, you have "gun rights" advocates declaring that no one can regulate or legislate their right to own as many firearms as possible. They insist that the second amendment gives them carte blanche to do whatever they please with guns. On the other side of the debate, you have folks advocating for a complete ban on guns, an argument blatantly contrary to our constitution.
What about the voice in the center? As a 12-year Navy veteran who taught hundreds of sailors how to effectively employ firearms and non-lethal weapons in the use of force, I think the middle is where we need to be. I would assert that we need common sense reform for what we need to do, at the state and national level, to maintain our constitutional right to bear arms while arming ourselves with the tools to be safer in public.
In order to carry a weapon while in the military, a service member must complete a series of requirements to qualify on each individual weapon. Aboard my first ship, I spent a lot more time on the shooting range than most other sailors because I was in charge of the work center responsible for maintaining and repairing the weapons, as well as for training all of the Sailors at our unit in their employment. Even though I did that, I was STILL required to shoot a firearms qualification course AND attend weapons familiarization training at least once a year. Of note, special forces units are required to train on these weapons exponentially more than other units.
I say we need background checks, mental health screenings and mandatory training for all gun owners, including family gifts, on a five-year recurring cycle. That sounds like an awfully well-regulated militia to me.
Before you tell me how I am violating your rights by proposing a record of gun owners, note that the constitution does not say that you have the right to bear arms and not tell anyone. We regulate chemicals, elevators, airplanes and financial transactions -- and none of those are specifically designed to kill anyone.
The best part about all of this? The costs don't fall on you as you're purchasing the gun. They are covered by ammunition purchases. Five cents per round for the first five years that the law is in place, dropping to two cents per round after that. The money that the state sees from this revenue would go toward processing, enforcement, mental health checks, training and other costs associated with this law.
The time is now. NRA, change your position. An overwhelming majority of your members support universal background checks. Why do you insist on lobbying against them? Remember when lifelong republican and gun owner, former President George Bush resigned his lifetime membership with your association? That wasn't a wake up call that your extremist lobbying was crossing lines? It's time to be reasonable. It's time to respect your membership. It's time to require training and screening for all firearms.
Congress, have the guts to pass legislation that addresses these issues. While you're at it, address America's race issue. You can start by passing laws to lockup hate groups like the 19 who exist in South Carolina.
America, begin to care. Stop falling into the false argument that you cannot talk about these issues when they happen. We cannot let the nine dead members of the Emanuel AME congregation die in vain like the kids at Sandy Hook, the moviegoers in Aurora, or the congregants at the Sikh temple. We must address this.
Call your congressmen and women, your state senators, your assembly members, your mayors, and your city councils. Tell them that you want to protect your kids. You want to protect your communities. Hell, you want to protect yourself. Tell them that, with the stroke of a pen, they can improve safety for their constituents and side with the clear majority of Americans.