When Will We Wake Up and Place Civilized Restrictions on Gun Sales,
Possession and Use?
The latest tragedy involving guns must spur us to action to control this epidemic that is destroying the fabric of our society. Surely the “right to bear arms” was never meant to mean “the right to massacre innocent children.” It is way past time for the public—if its representatives won’t—to demand much more rigorous controls on the sales of all guns, including bans on the import, sale and possession of guns that are not meant for individual protection or hunting, but are simply weapons of mass destruction. This is demonstrably a public health issue.
What kind of country have we become if we freely allow virtually anyone to legally purchase assault rifles, machine guns and automatic and semi-automatic weapons, massive amounts of bullets and magazines that hold hundreds of rounds that make it simple to kill many people in a matter of seconds? The rationalization that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” does not stand up. It’s like saying that “people kill, not bombs.” Yet we don’t allow just anyone to purchase TNT, plastic explosives or time bombs.
Civilization meant among other things the end of the law of the jungle where it was kill or be killed. However, we are rapidly descending back jungle law where fear is our daily bread and powerful weapons of mass destruction threaten our lives. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the “United States has by far the highest per capita rate [of firearm related killings] of all developed countries.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/14/chart-the-u-s-has-far-more-gun-related-killings-than-any-other-developed-country/. And a recent report that the U.S. has one of the lowest life expectancy rates for persons under 50 among industrialized countries, with death by gun one of the leading causes, should wake us up to the fact that guns are a major health problem.
The NRA’s suggestion that we put armed guards in our schools is ludicrous. The last thing we need is more guns, especially in this most vulnerable of venues. The time is long past for action. That action should include, at a minimum, the following steps:
• Re-establishment of the national ban on import, sale and possession of assault rifles and a ban on the import, sale and possession of their cousins, semi- and automatic weapons and any other guns with multiple shot/round firing capacity;
• Requirement that no one under the age of 21 be allowed to buy a gun and that those over the age of 21 wishing to purchase a gun of any type, and ammunition, obtain a license from the State Police. That license, which is discretionary, not a right, will be granted only to licensed hunters and those persons who can show a particularized need for self-protection, and then only after an extensive background check into arrests, convictions, , record of domestic abuse, job history and hospitalizations for mental illness, using a state and national database of such information, and a month long waiting period (longer if it takes longer to finish the background check);
• Requirement that anyone selling guns as a business—gun shops, gun fairs, sellers on the Internet-be required to register with the State Police and be forbidden from selling guns to anyone not possessing a valid in-state State Police license;
• No one be allowed to purchase more than one gun per year;
• No one be allowed to purchase more than a reasonable amount of ammunition at any one time or during a year and that sellers be required to report immediately to the State Police and FBI all sales of ammunition to any one person that exceed such reasonable amount (similar to the requirement that banks report cash transactions of over $10,000);
• The sale of protective armor, bullet proof vests, helmets, etc. be banned.
• Any individual wishing to sell or give a gun to a non-family member must instead sell it to the local or State Police at fair market value.
• These requirements will not apply to full time military or police personnel.
No set of reasonable gun regulations can ever prevent someone from getting a gun illegally or from a legal gun owner from attempting to murder someone. But by vastly restricting the volume of guns sold in the U.S. and making it extremely hard to get a gun legally, other than for hunting or documented need for personal protection, hopefully we can put an end to this national insanity.
Kenneth A. Reich, Esq.