Time to Discuss Gun Control Yet?

Trump says better mental health – not gun control – is the answer.

This was his response after a man shot and killed 26 people with a Ruger AR assault-type rifle in a Texas church yesterday.  Just five years ago, the U.S. Air Force court-martialed and dishonorably discharged this same guy after he assaulted his spouse and their child.  Yet despite all these glaring red flags, he was still able to purchase an assault-type rifle. Legally.

How is this not an issue of gun control?

Fact: Americans with serious mental health issues and domestic assault convictions are able to buy assault weapons.  Legally.  We saw it happen in Vegas, in Orlando, in San Bernadino, at Sandy Hook, and many others.  At some point, we have to talk about how easy it is for nut-balls to own powerful guns in this country.

The majority of us aren’t against gun ownership.

According to a recent Pew research poll, an overwhelming majority of Americans view gun ownership as essential to their freedom. (Link to Article)  And you could argue that the vast majority of gun owners are incredibly responsible and pose no threat to the rest of us.  So if that’s true, how are we not able to have a constructive national conversation about stricter gun purchasing laws?

Say hello to the NRA.

You know, the group that told us for eight years that Obama was coming for our guns.  He didn’t.  They’re the group who tells us that no laws could have prevented any of these tragedies.  Not true.  If gun-shop owners had to notify the FBI when somebody on or previously on one of the terror watch lists purchased a weapon, agents could have investigated and perhaps prevented the [Orlando] attack. The NRA tells us neither terrorists nor criminals are deterred by these laws, so why bother?  But that’s true of every law, so that argument just doesn’t make sense.  (Link to Article)  The NRA’s current and previous leadership has snuffed every attempt to discuss tightening up the background checks of potential gun owners at the get-go.

How is that possible?

Is it the money the NRA gives to Republican legislators?  Not necessarily.  Money does have a real influence on policymaking in Washington. But it doesn’t tend to change how politicians vote on big, high-profile issues that garner national attention, according to the political scientists.  (Link to Article)

So how is the NRA able to exert so much control over gun-control legislation?

The answer is apparently simple: votes.

“The much bigger threat the gun rights group poses is its ability to mobilize and excite huge numbers of voters” says Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at the think tank New America.  “The way you rise up in Republican politics is by supporting gun rights issues, and you do that because there a lot of Republican voters in the coalition who care very deeply about gun rights.”  (Link to Article)  Those with the most votes get to make the laws.

That explains the ‘how’, but most of us are wondering ‘why’?

Why are Republican legislators against stricter background checks?  Why are they against even talking about tighter gun control laws?  Fear.  They don’t want to upset their base, and they believe a national conversation about gun control would do just that.

But they’re wrong.

Most gun owners prioritize safety.  In U.S. News and World Report, avid gun enthusiast Pat Tomlinson suggests, “A responsible NRA would be working for, not against, universal background checks on all firearms sales. As a responsible gun owner, it’s my job to ensure anyone I transfer a weapon to is in fact legally permitted to possess one. That’s the bare minimum due diligence that should be expected of me, and the vast majority of Americans and even gun owners agree.”  (Link to Article)

Gun Owners For Responsible Ownership agree.

According to their website, they believe our Second Amendment rights come with responsibilities.  We believe in common-sense efforts to reduce gun violence and promote gun safety including:

  • Universal background checks to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people.
  • Safe and secure storage of firearms to prevent access by children or any unauthorized person.

Except Trump says better mental health – not gun control – is the answer.

Says the same guy who is dismantling our national healthcare system.  When it’s easier for a mentally unstable person to purchase an assault rifle than it is for him to see a psychiatrist, it’s time to take a good look at our national priorities.

Otherwise, innocent Americans will continue to be slaughtered.

  • Mike Lukas

 

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