I appreciate Bo Statham’s Nov. 16 commentary recommending that we focus on firearm safety, not restrictions and control. In my Sept. 24 column, I recommended very similar action suggesting that this conflict should be put to rest while we “... make every possible effort in the interim to find the changes that cause the small amount of gun violence we do have.” As far back as I can remember, the National Rifle Association has placed a high emphasis on identical measures, gun safety not gun control.
I am a strong advocate of the Second Amendment, an NRA member and one of the first holders of a concealed-carry permit in Nevada. I have never met a supporter of gun rights and the Second Amendment who does not support “ownership responsibilities.” These responsibilities are sacrosanct among those with private-carry permits and NRA members. Some Americans fail to learn about and comply with ownership responsibilities. Also, they skip training required for private-carry permits. There is no shortage of insight and compliance within responsible-gun-ownership culture.
“Criminals” should not be empowered to posses weapons; that’s not even worth debating. The same goes for those with mental health issues, or those who are at heightened risk of doing harm to themselves or others. It is, however, worth considering how to limit weapons access to people belonging to those groups without tampering with our hard-fought-for liberty.
Further, after identifying members of these groups, how likely is it that we could develop the technology and infrastructure to prevent them from accessing potentially harmful weapons?
Mr. Statham recommends “reasonable, responsible and effective means to achieve a higher degree of gun safety” — that is, trigger locks and secure storage. Yet the primary purpose for handguns is self-protection. I know of no method of secure storage that would allow responsible gun owners to effectively access a weapon in time to prevent most attacks. A locked or secured weapon puts an owner at high risk.
With the exception of law enforcement personnel and those with a concealed-carry permit, all gun owners should take gun-safety classes. However, making that mandatory would be a massive, and perhaps hopeless, endeavor. As I have written, it would not be possible to remove guns from all those who obtain them with criminal intent. Likewise, can you imagine requiring criminals to undergo gun safety training or to lock their weapons? Similarly, it would not be reasonable to expect those with mental health issues to fully understand and practice gun safety instructions?
Further, background checks violate individual privacy rights. Just as big government has surreptitiously undertaken a massive invasion of telephone traffic, it can also clandestinely accumulate records of all those who have undergone gun-ownership background checks.
It is time to find ways to identify criminals and those with relevant mental health issues without stomping upon our constitutional freedoms. The great enigma is that we live in a culture that protects us from such intrusions. Should we sacrifice any share of this liberty for measures that may or may not prevent gun violence in a culture that touts a murder rate that is the lowest in more than a century?
Dan Mooney, a 40-year Carson City resident, may be reached at Nevada4@aol.com.