Gun Violence in America - Wasatch Wave (1/20/13)
First of all, take a deep breath and calm down. Nobody in the federal government is proposing to take guns away from those US citizens that have a lawful right to own or possess them. Everyone who has read to this point is familiar with the Second Amendment which states “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”. Although many believe the Amendment was solely in reference to militias, the Supreme Court in “District of Columbia v. Heller” in 2008 voted in a 5 to 4 decision that the right extended to individuals as well as well regulated militias. However, in this same decision, the court made it clear that “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited”. In other words, the government “under the Constitution” has a right to set reasonable limits on gun ownership and use.
America has a problem. There are only 4 of the so called 36 rich (OECD) nations with a homicide rate higher than the US in spite of an American firearm ownership rate far in excess of all others – almost one firearm per capita. We lose about 10,000 people a year to firearm caused homicides compared to about 40 per year in Great Britain. Our total gun deaths from all causes are about 30,000 per year, almost identical to the annual motor vehicle fatalities. Every 20 years or so, more Americans die in the US from firearms than have died on every battlefield since 1775.
Few would disagree that target shooting on Main Street or sale of a firearm to a known felon or a potentially violent mentally ill person should be unlawful. Yet the current law permits the latter sales to occur during gun shows or private sales of firearms. We need some commonsense reforms that allow responsible citizens to own guns while removing them from those that almost everyone agrees should not have them. If we can require a motor vehicle driver to demonstrate proficiency and responsibility through a license, is it too much to require a gun owner to not be a felon or be mentally stable through a permit? Is it unfair for all gun owners (including myself) to help pay for the current or additional security required to keep us and our children safer in the sea of guns that surrounds us? Let’s not let an unattainable perfect solution stand in the way of a good one.