Slipping Through the Cracks
By Patrick F. Cannon
I was reluctant to comment again on gun control, but for what it’s worth, I think one could argue that assault weapon and bump stock bans would be worthwhile, if mostly symbolic. Do you really need an AR-15 to hunt deer or elk? The bolt- or lever-action long guns that have traditionally been used for this kind of hunting are more than adequate – you could even argue that they are better suited for hunting than an assault-type rifle.
Beyond that, what other “meaningful” gun legislation could we pass? We already have background checks and waiting periods, although they might well be tightened. We have registries that prevent felons and others from buying guns. If we’re worried about a particular gun owner, we can contact law enforcement. What we can’t do is eliminate human fallibility.
In the case of Parkland High School, the FBI had received tips about Nikolas Cruz, but failed to follow up. In the Sutherland Springs, Texas church shootings, the Air Force had failed to add shooter Devin Patrick Kelley’s felony court martial conviction to the national registry. As a result, he was able to pass a background check. In both cases, new laws would have been meaningless. What was needed were people doing what they were supposed to be doing. The strict enforcement of existing laws and regulations would actually have prevented many of the mass shootings.
Schools around the country need to have better security. Many already lock their entry doors after the school day begins; visitors then must go through a security check before gaining access. Sadly, this needs to be done universally. Classroom doors should also be locked on the outside, a simple precaution that could have saved lives in some school shootings. Again, no legislation is needed, only common sense local action.
Don’t expect the National Rifle Association to change its attitude any time soon, unless there’s a mass exodus of its individual members. This has not happened, and we should also keep in mind that the NRA also represents gun manufacturers, who are not likely to voluntarily go out of business.
Even if they did, it’s estimated that Americans already own more than 300 million guns, and the courts have consistently upheld their right to “keep and bear” them. Unless through some miracle — that I can’t imagine ever happening – the Second Amendment is changed or repealed, the courts will continue to be wary of arbitrarily limiting the sale of firearms.
There is no question that weapons like the AR 15 make mass shootings more lethal, but we should keep in mind that the overall murder rate is half what it was in 1980. And for those of you who live in Chicago, there are 24 cities in the US with higher murder rates. Of course, none of this is going to console those who have lost loved ones to guns, but we should try to keep this emotional issue in some perspective.
Instead of picketing the NRA, we should be making sure that our schools have adequate security measures in place; that the FBI and other police agencies are doing their jobs; and that a national registry that is all inclusive is up and running. We can no longer count on our legislatures to do anything meaningful, much less the right thing. But as taxpayers we can demand that the people who work for us earn their pay.
Copyright 2018, Patrick F. Cannon