Curbing Gun Violence

Today, there was an interesting article in the New York Times, titled  ” Pastor Urges Flock To Bring Guns To Church” written by Kathleen Seelye, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/us/26guns.html?_r=1&ref=us. This article highlights America’s growing gun problems in the Age of Obama. State legislatures have begun to legalize gun carriage in restaurants, bars, and even schools. This is unacceptable. Obviously when you go into a bar and drink alcohol you are impairing your mental faculties and should therefore not carry weapons on your person, lest acting in poor judgment you kill someone. Even the cowboys of the Wild West checked their guns at the saloon door. Carrying guns in a school building threatens students, who in a fit of rage could be shot by one of their peers. We have seen in the past thirty years that places where gun laws are the loosest are areas where gun violence is most prevalent, notably the South and the Interior West. In Virginia where the Virginia Tech shooting occurred and in Colorado where the Colombine High School massacre happened, gun laws are flimsy at best and reckless at worst. Seng-hui Cho, the student who murdered dozens of his peers at Virginia Tech would have never have passed a background check in New York City, which would have uncovered his past of mental instability. The Colombine murderers, who used legal firearms, would have never harmed a soul if they lived in Washington, D.C., where handguns were banned.

The fact is that gun control laws do work in reducing violent crime and have succeeded miraculously in cities like New York and D.C.  We should advocate for pragmatic regulations on guns which enhance safety while reducing violence. These measures should include: reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004, reviving the five-day waiting period needed to purchase a gun under the Brady bill, allowing federal and state authorities to share information about firearms, maintaining gun-free zones around schools and bars, and criminalizing concealed carriage of weapons. There is no reason why a civilian needs an M-16 or an Uzi with cop-killer bullets to protect themselves, a hand-gun with standard ammunition is just fine. A five-day waiting period ensures that the weapons vendors and the government can perform necessary background checks to ensure that the buyer is of sound mental state, has not committed a felony, and is old enough to purchase a firearm. Allowing information-sharing among various levels of government enhances enforcement officials’ ability to protect us. Gun-free zones are important in creating safe havens for young children where they can learn and develop away from the harsh realities of the outside world. Concealed carry allows people to secrete weapons in public and private and undermines the goal of safe communities.

More important than all this, though, is eradicating America’s gun culture which glorifies weapons as Americana as apple pie. We will see real change when going to the firing range and learning how to shoot a gun is not an integral part of growing up in the South. We will see real change when people no longer feel the need to show their masculinity by purchasing loads of firearms. Together, today we must work for this, so it is reality tomorrow.

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