I Have a Gripe

February 17, 2018

The Continued Gun Debate

Here we are again. Another horrible mass shooting. It kicks up all kinds of feelings; sadness, anger, confusion, and more. It also, brings up the gun debate to the front of the news headlines again. People debate and argue and try to come up with solutions. Some make sense. Some are extreme. I did a blog post about the gun debate back in 2016 after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Like many, I’ve continued to think about this issue and I’d like to add a few more items to my original list.

  1. Armed guards at schools: Announcing to the world that places like schools are “gun free zones” just make them easy targets. Some think arming teachers might be a good idea. I have an even better one. Schools should hire retired police or military personnel as armed guards. These individuals have already received specialized training in how to handle active shooter situations. We use armed guards at banks, federal buildings, and even to protect celebrities. Our children deserve no less.
  2. Threat assessment team: Maybe this is already in place and the public isn’t aware, but there should be “threat assessment teams” at the state and federal levels that focus on just school threats. This requires knowledge sharing across multiple agencies at the local, state, and national levels. The FBI really botched this one, as someone did contact them about this nutcase and they didn’t follow up. That’s why I feel there needs to be a more formal process in place to specifically handle just threats to schools.
  3. Raise the age to purchase a firearm to 21: In New Jersey you need to be 21 to purchase cigarettes. Nationally, you need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. I think purchasing a firearm is a far more serious purchase than either of those items. The age to purchase any type of firearm should be raised nationally to 21.
  4. Education – for everyone: In my last blog post, I said in order to make a weapon purchase I feel someone should need to show proof of completion of a gun safety course. I also feel the public needs to understand exactly what the different types of weapons are in order to have an intelligent debate. For example, “AR” doesn’t stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” It stands for the ArmaLite rifle, named after the company that developed the weapon. AR-15-style rifles may look like military rifles, such as the M-16, however, they function like other semi-automatic civilian firearms. A semi-automatic firearm means it fires only one round with each pull of the trigger. An assault rifle is fully automatic, meaning multiple rounds are fired with each pull of the trigger. Automatic firearms have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934. If we are going to have an intelligent discussion about how to handle gun ownership in this country, we all need to understand the terminology, what is legally available, what is illegal, and then we can know where to begin.
  5. Go after “auto kit” sellers: I also mentioned this in my last blog post, but I want to repeat it. The individuals who create kits and directions to change a semi-auto weapon to a full-auto weapon should be prosecuted and loopholes in current laws should be closed.

I know there are people who would like to eliminate the second amendment. It isn’t going to happen. I’m not a gun owner, but I believe in the right to bear arms – responsibly. For example, the mother of the Sandy Hook shooter was NOT a responsible gun owner. She knew she had a child with a severe mental disorder. She did not keep her weapons secure. She encouraged his weapon use. In my opinion, that entire tragedy should fall squarely on her shoulders. If you have someone in your home that has a severe mental problem, maybe you shouldn’t own a weapon.

I am sure some will agree with me and there are others who will disagree with me. What’s important is that we finally come up with a serious plan. Otherwise, time will fade, people will move on. And then it will happen again. Don’t let it.

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