By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com
Authorities profess being “mystified” by gun violence. But there is no mystery. It is the sheer easy access to the vast quantity of guns that is the common denominator to every tragedy.
The only thing that is mystifying is how Republicans have won elections by fear-mongering about rising crime and threats to public safety, but instead of addressing the most terrifying, terrorizing threat to public safety, they are not just ignoring gun violence but are actively obstructing efforts to curb it, even passing (if you can believe it), “permitless carry” and “constitutional carry” laws to make it even easier to get a gun, and passing laws, like Stand Your Ground, to make it easier to use deadly force – that is, administer capital punishment – without accountability.
Is it still too soon, caught up in the emotion of yet another unspeakable tragedy to discuss in a “nonemotional” way what needs to be done? And actually do something? Or is it too soon before the next mass shooting? By the 100th day of the year, there had already been 130 mass shootings,; by the 200th there were 243 mass shootings - that's about 1.7 per day - and 23 mass murders, or a little more than one per week. By the one-year anniversary of the Uvalde school massacre, there had been a staggering 650 mass shootings and well 40,000 deaths due to gun violence. So a constant state of emotion - more likely, a constant state of numb.
Imagine: gun violence, anti-wokeness becoming the hallmarks of “America’s Exceptionalism” culture, instead of the democracy, liberty, equality, dignity.
The gun violence epidemic is a public health crisis, and increasingly a national security crisis.
Children have to live in prison, and live with the trauma of active shooter drills and active shooters in their schools, which are no longer regarded as “safe spaces”. But so do we all – in our daily lives, whether just going to a grocery store, a july 4 parade, a movie theater, a concert. Billions of dollars are being spent on security, to “harden” “soft-targets” instead of paying for books or heaven-forbid teachers, or cultural program.s
No place is safe – well except for the Supreme Court, an NRA conference, a Trump rally, a DeSantis rally – because guns are not allowed. Imagine that. But they will force guns into your space.
So now that we established that no right is absolute (see: The 2nd Amendment Myth that ‘Gun Rights’ Cannot be ‘Infringed’), what could be, should be done to end the scourge, the daily terror of gun violence?
Here we have suitable models from the right-wing’s crusade to limit women’s access to abortion in the 50 years before the SCOTUS6 overturned this constitutional right, or for that matter, voting rights, which require registration, where the rightwing has had such success putting up barriers to the ballot box.
Apply the same to guns:
Ban assault weapons, high-capacity ammo, bump stocks for civilian use. Give a deadline for when it will be illegal to possess (institute a buy-back program; invite weapons be donated to Ukraine.)
End the unprecedented exemption for product liability that shields gun manufacturers, in contrast to every other industry or product in America, and bring the gun industry under regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Because there is no consequence, there are no child safety locks so a 4 year old can (and has) murdered his 2 year old sibling or his mother; they wouldn’t manufacture a gun that can fire itself (A Washington Post investigation uncovered that the popular SIG Sauer P320 pistol injured more than 80 people—without owners even pulling the trigger).
Require the $28 billion guns and ammo industry pay into a Victims Compensation Fund (just as banks are required to contribute to FDIC) and help defray the $597 billion/a year that gun violence costs society.
Require gun manufacturers to build in Smart ID so that a gun stolen from house, car, soldier or police officer cannot be used by criminal; smart ID would also be able to track back if a gun were used in a crime (for those who claim to be hard on crime).
Institute advertising/marketing controls just as government did for Big Tobacco.
Require all guns to be sold by a licensed retailer who is required to do background check and register ownership of that gun. This includes personal guns that otherwise would be traded, sold or gifted among family or friends – they would need to sell them back to a retailer who would be authorized to sell used guns, but still require a background check and re-register the gun. Retailers would have to pay fines or if multiple incidents, lose license. To change registration (like a car or voting), need to re-register the gun.
Regulate WHERE, HOW and WHO can sell guns – just like they regulate where and how women can access healthcare; require retail shops to have security.
Harden penalties for retailers who do not do proper background checks or allow straw purchases (criminal penalty if gun improperly sold used in a crime; loss of retail license).
Put a hefty tax on purchase of guns, ammo and gun paraphernalia, which helps recompense law enforcement.
No online purchases of guns or ammo.
Gun owners must be certified as having gone through training and knowing laws regarding safe storage), licensed to carry a gun and registered as the owner of that specific gun (just as for a car). License requires a psychological exam, background check that includes criminal record.
License/permit must be renewed every 5 years. If license is from state/locality, must be get new license if move (like voter registration, auto registration).
Universal background check, national registry.
Red Flag laws to prevent anyone who is adjudicated a threat to self or others from possessing a gun.
Require owners to carry liability insurance, additional charge to homeowners and health insurance. Payments made to victims.
Tax license, registration, guns and ammunition and supplies (like tax extra for internet, cable TV, car registration) – money go to Victims Fund;
Ban ghost guns – add criminal penalty if used in crime.
Ban assault weapons, high-capacity ammo. “Buy back” program – give to police, military, national guard; or organize donation for Ukraine.
Civil and criminal penalties for failing to safely store weapons, ammunition; severity increases if gun used in violent crime.
If guns are going to be everywhere, there has to be accountability: Negligent homicide for anyone whose gun is used in murder, felony prosecution for anyone whose gun is used in crime, including parents of kids (as young as 6).
Stand Your Ground defense? Prove actual mortal threat and no way to mitigate (shooting someone in the back you suspect was thinking about shoplifting a bottle of water does not qualify), shooting someone trying to back out of your driveway in their own car doesn’t qualify.
Still not good enough? Then apply the exact language of the 2nd Amendment at the time of the founding (since the ChristoFascist radical ideologues seem to like to reach back to the beginning of time and the so-called “original text”), when there weren’t any bullets at all, only single-ball muskets.
Congress Must Act
President Joe Biden, marking National Gun Violence Awareness Day, noted that while he was able to sign the most significant gun safety legislation in 30 years, and signed dozens of executive actions, “the reality is that it will take Congressional action to make the kinds of meaningful reforms we need to keep our communities safe.
“A broad majority of Americans want to see commonsense reforms that would curb our gun violence epidemic – like establishing universal background checks, requiring safe storage of firearms, and finally banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. But instead of listening to their constituents, Republicans in Congress continue to do the bidding of the gun lobby. Instead of shielding our kids from gun violence in their classrooms, Republicans in Congress are focused on shielding gun manufacturers from liability.
“At a time when guns are the number one killer of kids in America, it shouldn’t be this hard to convince Republicans in Congress to keep weapons of war off our streets and to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Even a majority of responsible gun owners support commonsense actions to save lives and keep our communities safe.
“State lawmakers must step up as well. I’m encouraged by the growing number of states working to pass commonsense measures like red flag laws and assault weapons bans, but we have to do more. And Americans must demand more.
“It is within our power to realize a future where our malls, grocery stores, movie theaters, and places of worship are safe from the threat of gun violence. Where parents aren’t gripped with anxiety dropping their kids off at school every single day. Where our children don’t learn to duck and cover before they learn to read and write. But it will require Congress to act.”
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