To the next fool who says we don't need more restrictive gun laws in America, we just need to be better armed to discourage the would-be killers, I say this:
Surrounded by our nation's most expert security agents and best trained marksmen, John Hinckley shot three people including the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. Similarly surrounded, Arthur Bremer shot four people including Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace and a Secret Service agent.
Having a gun in your hand or strapped to your hip is no deterrent to the determined individual with mayhem on his mind and an easily-obtained gun in his pocket.
Gunning down killers after the fact may be satisfying to the would-be Marshall Dillons out there, but the rest of us would prefer to work on ways to prevent the crazies and the committed killers from getting their hands on guns before the shooting even starts.
As the nation grieves over the tragic massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, and lawmakers grapple with what can be done to prevent the next mass shooting, sensible gun restrictions must be part of the answer. A majority of Americans — including gun-owning Americans and National Rifle Association members — support sensible gun regulation. In fact, research released just this past July by Republican pollster Frank Luntz for Mayors against Illegal Guns, finds that gun advocates overwhelmingly support common-sense measures typically described as “gun control.” These include:
1. Requiring criminal background checks on gun owners and gun shop employees. 87% of non-NRA gun-owners and 74% of NRA gun owners support the former, and 80% and 79%, respectively, endorse the latter.
2. Prohibiting terrorist watch list members from acquiring guns. Support ranges from 80% among non-NRA gun-owners to 71% among NRA members. How this concept doesn’t poll at 100% simply amazes me.
3. Mandating that gun-owners tell the police when their gun is stolen. 71% non-NRA gun-owners support this measure, as do 64% of NRA members.
4. Concealed carry permits should only be restricted to individuals who are age 21 and older and have completed a safety training course. 84% of non-NRA and 74% of NRA member gun-owners support the safety training restriction, and the numbers are 74% and 63% for the age restriction.
5. Concealed carry permits shouldn’t be given to perpetrators of violent misdemeanors or individuals arrested for domestic violence. The NRA/non-NRA gun-owner split on these issues is 81% and 75% in favor of the violent misdemeanors provision and 78% and 68% in favor of the domestic violence restriction.
The poll, which sampled 945 gun owners around the country and had a margin of error of plus/minus 3%, also found broad support among gun-owners for the principle that “support for Second Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.” In fact, more NRA members – a full 87% - supported the statement than non-NRA members (83%).
Every other industrialized nation in the world seems to be able to come to grips with reducing or eliminating gun violence, why can’t the United States? Are the advocates of unrestricted gun ownership telling us that Americans are incapable of accomplishing what everyone else can? Are they satisfied to be ranked only among the most blood-soaked third world nations in per capita gun deaths? Does the ugly record of mass shootings in the United States make them wave their flags and chant “USA! USA!”?
In the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy, I and millions of other sensible gun legislation advocates are calling on Congress to ban assault weapons and high capacity clips, close terrorism loopholes, and require background checks for all gun sales. At the same time, the NRA has yet to issue a public statement about the elementary school shooting. One wonders, if it ever does, if it will listen to the views of its own members, or continue to whore itself out to the business interests of gun manufacturers.