Susan Stornetta: Gun control laws are coming
CBS news reports the appallingly dismal fact that 255 mass shootings happened in the U.S. as of Aug. 5, more than one each day. I’m deeply saddened that our nation, which began with an idealistic vision unique in the known world, has come to the point where honorable idealism, empathy, and compassion have been replaced by hatred and fear.
Mass murder is committed on family members, for criminal purposes, or on the general public, the most widely publicized type. The perpetrator is usually a testosterone-fueled male between his late teens and 40 years of age. Possibly he’s experienced childhood trauma, has a fervent cause, crisis, or grudge, or wants to “go down in history.” The excuses don’t count. What matters is that an unbalanced, deluded, or amoral person has the means to commit such a crime.
The Second Amendment of 1791 allowed states to sponsor citizen armies to protect themselves if the federal government ran amok. At the time, muzzle-loading flintlock rifles were used. The flintlock horseman’s pistol in arrived in the U.S. around 1799; deadlier weapons appeared during the 1800s. Gatling guns were patented in 1862, shotguns by 1878, semi- and fully automatic rifles by 1885, handguns by 1892, and semi-automatic pistols by 1910; machine guns drove World War 1.
Proliferation inevitably prompted gun control laws. Our 182-year history of taxing, licensing, restriction, purchaser records, background checks, and gun owner protections is lengthy, and can be found on internet websites such as thoughtco.com. State and federal governments have struggled to balance the rights of all citizens alike, pursuant to the Second Amendment’s protection for weapons carried for self-defense.
Times change, and society has changed in ways inconceivable in 1791. The fluctuations of constitutional interpretation, the pressures of political influences coupled with the tremendous increase in population have produced a nation now strongly at odds with itself, particularly regarding guns.
The National Rifle Association, founded in 1871 to improve marksmanship among state militias and teach firearm safety and competency, supported the earliest gun control legislation. Now it’s a partisan political force, uncompromisingly rejecting gun control. Its money and unyielding stance have influenced legislators’ voting behavior since the 1970s, and clearly, gun control is effectively nonexistent.
Legislatively, other safety issues have been addressed summarily. To operate that deadly weapon, the automobile, requires a renewable license, training, knowledge of laws, and insurance, and the industry provides safety improvements. Seven deaths from Tylenol tampering in 1982 resulted in the universal use of tamper-proof containers. Jayne Mansfield’s death in 1967 led to safety additions on semi-trucks on the highway. A 2001 failed shoe bomb attempt on an airplane resulted in today’s inspection of every air traveler’s shoes. Yet the horrendous impact of gun misuse continues unrestrained.
Gun control laws are often developed in response to horrific events, by fearful people unfamiliar with guns and seeking quick solutions. New laws are coming, like it or not. If responsible gun owners truly wish to protect their rights, they must step up to the challenge, and provide their representatives with knowledgeable solutions. Isn’t it worth considering scientific research, background checks, renewable licenses, safety training classes, prohibitions on assault-type weapons and their accessories, and buy-back opportunities, to preserve those rights? Give it serious thought.
The “Just Say No” mantra didn’t work for Nancy Reagan, and it’s not working for the self-reported 5.5 million NRA members. Polls say that the majority of their samples support gun control. If just half of the 113 million people who voted in the 2018 election support it, that’s about 57 million voices, far outshouting those 5.5 million NRA folks. Legislators, unstop your ears, and find genuine solutions.