Sunday, March 25, 2018

Reasonable Gun Control Measures: Reagan Wanted It, Obama Wanted It, Most Americans Want It, But Will We Get It?

Did you know that President Ronald Reagan wanted reasonable, common-sense gun control? So did President Barack Obama. And so do most Americans. President Donald Trump said he wanted it, too, after the unthinkable shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., left 17 people dead and 17 more were wounded. 

But Trump subsequently caved after meeting with representatives of the National Rifle Association (NRA). 

Ironically, even most NRA members support the idea of a nationwide database to track gun sales (which we don't have), universal background checks (which we don't have), a ban on high-capacity gun magazines (which we don’t have), and a ban on assault-style weapons of war (which we don't have).

Back in 2012, just weeks after after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., left 20 young children and six adults dead, Obama introduced a moderate, relatively inexpensive and easy-to-initiate gun control package that included a new assault-weapons ban. 

But the NRA-backed weasels in Congress did not have the stuffing to support it. 

When the original assault-rifles ban was enacted in 1994, Reagan, who was shot in an assassination attempt in 1981, said, "While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals."

But that ban supported by Reagan expired in 2004. And despite the horror of Sandy Hook, Obama’s efforts to initiate a new ban was quashed by a lily-livered Congress that has been bought by the gun lobby.

But this is a new day. Even Obama didn't enjoy the far-reaching and politically invaluable power of a national young adult movement calling for real gun-control, which the nation witnessed in full bloom on Saturday

Virtually every high school senior who participated in these emotion-packed, oh-so-American marches over the weekend will be old enough to vote in November. And they are registering, and they will vote, as will millions more who were inspired by these marches and by the passion of our kids.

So now that the people of this country really have the attention of the spineless pols, which is precisely how this country is supposed to work, here's what we all can and must do, as a nation, to address these horrific mass shootings and reduce gun violence:

* Protect the Second Amendment, and never take handguns or shotguns away from law-abiding Americans who own them for protection and/or for hunting, but break up and expose the NRA, which is a dangerous, anti-American organization that does not care about human life but only about gun sales.

* Re-commit to President Reagan’s plan to get weapons of war off America’s streets once and for all. Limit high-powered weapons of war to members of the military. Period. 

* Ban all high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. They serve no purpose other than to kill a large group of humans in a short period of time. They are not for hunting or protecting one’s family in the home. They gotta go.

* Adopt federal legislation to mandate background checks, which is supported by 95 percent of all Americans, on all gun buys. No exceptions. No private-sale exceptions. No gun show loopholes. You buy a gun, you need to wait until a legit federal background check clears you. Got it? Good.

* Improve national access to mental health services and intervening in schools and beyond to prevent people with mental illness people from purchasing a gun. Aggressively address the nation's mounting mental health epidemic with free or low-coat mental health clinics in every city.

* Re-establish ambitious national gun buyback programs. No questions asked. 

* Fund and design national gun violence research and prevention/intervention programs and take the reins off of the Centers for Disease Control and let them do their job.

* If a school chooses to have armed security on campus, institute a federal standard of mandatory intense training. Being a member or former member of the military is not a qualification to be a security guard at a school.  The person must pass rigorous shooting tests and also must pass rigorous psychological tests. Anyone who has been diagnosed with PTSD or any psychological issue would be disqualified.

* Do not arm teachers. Preposterous idea. A gun in a classroom puts kids in greater danger on a day-to-day basis. Study after study after study overwhelming shows that more guns mean more gun deaths.

* Modernize ATF and give it some teeth. Get rid of the restrictions on the agency, which at present can't even keep up on gun sales or require gun dealers to make sure no guns are missing. 

* Fund and federally support such responsible, pro-American groups as Every Town and Gabby Giffords' Courage to Fight Gun Violence group.

Let's face it: this country will not likely enact any truly meaningful gun control measures or any aggressive licensing of all guns in America or get rid of weapons of war unless and until Congress and the White House change. There are presently too many wimps on the Hill, mostly red-state republicans such as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who are bought by and beholden to the NRA.

There've been some 1,600 mass shootings in America since the tragedy at Sandy Hook. And yet the cowards in Washington have done nothing. Those days are over. What we saw in America this weekend was real, and these “kids” are not going away. 
This is their moment. This is their cause. And it should be the cause of every American who cares about the safety not only of our kids, but all of us.

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