The Parthenon

There are reasonable solutions to gun violence

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A little more than a month after nine Charleston, S.C. churchgoers were shot dead during a Bible study session, two women were shot and killed after John Houser walked into a movie theater and opened fire.

Events like this seemingly happen once a month and with almost every case there is one constant: the shooter should not have been able to get the gun.

Hindsight is most definitely 20/20, and every family member or friend is always surprised that their beloved Jimmy or Johnny could do something like killing someone, much less multiple people. But when is the last time you read about someone planning to kill people openly talk about it?

The killers often keep their true intentions secret, but they often have known issues that should be enough to prevent them from carrying out their plans to begin with.

Take, for instance, Dylann Roof – the admitted murderer of those nine people in Charleston. Roof was previously charged, and later admitted to, felony drug possession – enough to legally and reasonably deny his purchase of the gun he used. But, because of loopholes, clerical errors and an overall lack of urgency by government officials to address the issue of gun violence, nine people died.

Houser, who reportedly had a “history of mental illness” was able to purchase the gun he used because, despite being treated for mental health, it was not considered involuntary. So, on Valentine’s Day 2015 a man with mental illness problems, who was known to be volatile and erratic, was able to purchase a gun he would then use to kill two people and injure nine others.

It’s not just these two cases, either. The stories behind the killers are similar in many more. Yet nothing changes. President Obama holds a press conference calling for change, news channels hold panel debates on gun control, Facebook newsfeeds fill with gun owners reminding everyone of their Second Amendment right and then we sit and wait for another mass shooting.

The popular comparison for these situations is to Australia and the gun laws it enacted after a 1996 shooting. As part of those laws, it confiscated guns that it banned. It worked in Australia because not nearly as many people own firearms there as they do here. There is no evidence that the United States government could safely and successfully confiscate guns, especially considering how citizens in New York and Connecticut responded to just having to register assault rifles.

However, there are much more reasonable measures that can be taken to at least put a dent in the number of people who die each year from guns.

The first thing this country can do is address mental illnesses. Instead of looking at people with mental illness like they’re a problem, referring them to a clinic where they’ll be kept for a while before being released to a public that looks down on them – let’s encourage people to seek help and acceptance instead of hiding and ignoring an illness that could harm them and others.

Although we’ve already seen that background checks aren’t a fail-proof way to ensure guns don’t end up in the wrong hands, they could still be better. At this point, private transactions don’t require background checks. Universal background checks, which may come at a financial burden to some (but if you’re spending hundreds of dollars on a gun, that shouldn’t be a problem), would ensure that every gun that gets sold isn’t going to someone whom the law says shouldn’t have it. This is an opinion many Americans agree with, yet no political action has been made.

An alternative to universal background checks is a gun purchasing license, which requires buyers to pass a background check.

Some may say that requiring people to pay their own money to get a background check infringes on their rights, but every right has its limits. Everyone has their right to religion, but they can’t make human sacrifices as part of it. You have a right to free speech, but you cannot libel someone. Such is the case with the right to bear arms. Sure, you have that right, until it begins to threaten others. It may not be fair to the millions of responsible gun owners, but those same people likely have no problem with the extra security at airports to prevent terrorism. But what is the difference?

Gun safety laws aren’t an attack on anyone’s right and they aren’t a punishment for being a gun owner. They are a step toward fixing a problem that has plagued this country for far too long, one that will continue to go unfixed unless we all admit it.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “There are reasonable solutions to gun violence”

  1. Gene Ralno on July 30th, 2015 10:25 am

    Let’s clear the air. The constant is the same as other mass killings. The perpetrators were deranged. Not occasionally. Every time. And the question, “…when is the last time you read about someone planning to kill people openly talk about it?” is a near constant. Almost all recent mass shooters have been known and some well known to the psychiatric community. They may not have revealed the names, date and time of their plan but the community had clear clues and failed to act. The problem with permits, licensing laws, etc., is criminals rarely acquire their firearms legally. Regarding Australia’s success, the results are just now emerging. Leftists often point to Australia’s gun control success because “gun deaths” down under are rare. Well of course they’re rare. If they’d confiscated all the rope, deaths by hanging would be rare. Most notably, Australia’s “success” was a compulsory buyback of a million firearms, funded by taxpayers. More simply, it was government confiscation more brazen than what occurred in prewar Germany. In other words, to duplicate this “success,” the U.S. government would have to repeal the 2nd Amendment and purchase 300 million firearms, costing about $150 billion. In view of the “success” in New York and Connecticut where compliance was only about four percent and 10 percent respectively, litigation would be overwhelming and perhaps followed by colossal violence not seen since the Civil War.

    Comparing U.S. numbers, most of the so-called “gun deaths” were suicides and as most would conclude, suicide will take the path of least pain. Fact is the U.S. suicide rate is only 1.25 times higher than Australia’s, about the same as the comparative overall crime rates (1.19 times higher) and the quality of life (1.13 times higher). But the population density in the U.S. is 12.1 times higher, a statistic that often is quoted by sociologists as a causative factor in crime statistics, suicide rates and quality of life. In Australia, homicide has decreased by nine percent since 1990 and armed robbery by one-third since 2001, but recorded assaults and sexual assaults have both increased steadily in the past 10 years by over 40 percent and 20 percent respectively. A direct comparison of murder rates isn’t possible because illegal aliens murder a large but unknown number of citizens annually in the U.S. while the number of illegal aliens are negligible in Australia.

    Demonizing the U.S. “gun death” rate is popular but recent data indicates 19,392 use firearms to take their own lives annually. That’s about 49.1% of the total suicides and 58.9% of the total deaths by firearm. That leaves about 13,537 for gangs, other murderers, law enforcement and of course those who defend themselves. Perhaps most egregiously, leftists never, ever clarify the claimed “gun death” number with the number murdered by illegal aliens. That leaves about 9,537 as the internationally comparable number, changing the U.S. rank and public opinion generally. In view of the amnesty program now erasing the U.S. southern border, that number seems significant. Because murders in the U.S. totaled 14,827 last year, a significant number must have been committed by means other than firearms. If firearms somehow vanished from the deranged segment, suicides would continue by drugs and other methods. And murders would continue with stabbing, cutting and striking implements, fists, feet and hands, drugs, drowning, drops, pushes and suffocations. Law officers would continue to shoot those who attack them leaving the rest to accidents and a small number for self-defense. I’d add that firearms are used more than a million times annually by lawful citizens defending themselves, most without firing a shot. That number might change but only if criminals stop committing crimes merely because they have no firearms.

  2. Him on July 30th, 2015 5:24 pm

    “Reasonable” anti-gun laws. There are already 20,000 “reasonable” anti-gun laws on the books and you think one more is going to help.
    The killers are not reasonable. You cannot “reason” with them. You can’t “talk” them out of their mayhem.
    They will obtain a gun in whatever way they can.
    Note that what stops them is almost always a good gun, at the time, on the site.
    And when we lack the good gun, at the site, at the time, the rampage continues.
    What we really need is more good guns, onsite, at the moment.
    You certainly must agree that in all of the cases, with a good gun, these shootings are stopped in their tracks.
    Point made?

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