OPINION — I’m going to go out on a limb here and wager that there isn’t one person reading this column whose heart didn’t sink when news of the latest mass shooting broke out of Oregon last week. Your faith, or lack of it, didn’t matter and neither did your skin color, political affiliation, age, gender or level of education.
And, it didn’t matter whether you were a longtime, card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association or never picked up a firearm in your life. As a reasonable human being, you were saddened, angry, disgusted, repulsed when you learned the news that, once again, innocent lives were taken by a lunatic.
In the aftermath of the Oregon shooting, we once again are searching for answers.
There have been those who vehemently argue that if more people were packing heat, fewer lives would have been lost.
There are those who will argue that even if every person in that little, rural community college in Oregon was armed, it would not have prevented the loss of life.
Given the nature of today’s world, I could easily go online and Google up a stack of quotes and numbers to justify each position.
But, all it would do is cloud the issue and muddy the waters even more because we would soon find ourselves arguing points that are tangential to the important core of the problem.
You see, the scholars will waste their time pleading for more research into why somebody would do something so horrendous, saying that if we can put together a profile of potential mass murderers we could, possibly, prevent them from acting on their twisted, evil intentions.
It would, however, be a waste of time.
We’ve learned enough already about the warning signs of somebody on the brink of tragic actions. We just don’t have anybody willing to actually try to prevent them, as evidenced in Oregon where, according to reports, this guy had gone into social media and had discussions about his intent to kill, warning others not to attend class that day.
Nobody, however, contacted the authorities.
Nobody stepped up and tried to intervene.
As a result, we mourn the lives extinguished in yet another senseless act of violence.
We’ve learned that, indeed, there have been situations when a Joe Citizen with a concealed carry permit has taken down a bad guy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that often and not once has it stopped one of these mass shootings, even when they occurred in places that were not gun-free zones.
But, we stick to the ridiculous and tired arguments we posit every time this happens rather than search our brains to come up with a solution.
Personally, I don’t believe the 2nd Amendment is as broad as some interpret it to be. That, however, is a question for greater legal minds than ours, a question that will never be answered fully because there is no way we can get into the heads of the long-dead founding fathers who wrote it.
So what can we do?
First of all, every new weapon ever sold was purchased legally by a law-abiding citizen. At some point, however, that law-abiding citizen crossed the line and either sold or gave it to somebody who should not have access to a gun. The bad guys get guns from somewhere, and it is complete idiocy to believe that the only guns used in crimes are stolen.
Legislation that would extend liability for violent crimes — whether a gun is used in a robbery, rape or murder — would be a starting point.
How it would work is that if you sell a firearm to somebody who then uses it to commit a crime, you would be just as culpable as the perpetrator and be prosecuted as an accomplice if you did not have a background check run on the purchaser beforehand. These checks are not expensive and, even if they were, they are cheaper than the loss of human life.
Would it completely eliminate violent crime?
Probably not, but it would, without question, curb it.
Legislation should also require that if you purchase a weapon, whether new or used, that you not only submit to a comprehensive criminal and mental stability background check but be required to receive training before the weapon is handed over. You would then have a license and could, if you wish, carry it legally.
Would it be time consuming?
Would it cost a few bucks?
But, think back to when you first acquired your driver’s license.
You had to have classroom and on-the-road instruction; you had to pass a written test; you were required to take an eye exam; and, if you had a medical condition, you had to be examined before the license was issued.
Hunters understand this, having had to attend a hunter’s education class before being issued a license to go into the field.
Legislation demanding strict enforcement of responsible gun ownership and accountability laws is not outside the parameters of reasonable expectation.
Before you start filling me up with hate mail, realize I do not endorse a gun ban. Neither, as a matter of fact, does our president. The man has been in office almost seven years. If he was truly after your guns, he’d have them by now.
I mean, even though I can’t understand why anybody needs to own an assault rifle, a ban on those weapons is not the answer. The 10-year ban on sales of new assault rifles did little to move the number much when it came to mass killings, and they are almost never used in incidents of one-on-one violence.
Besides, as we have woefully learned, wingnuts armed only with a semi-auto and a pocketful of ammunition clips have wasted a lot of human life.
It’s time for that to stop.
But, we cannot expect to come up with a reasonable solution if we lock ourselves up in unreasonable discussion.
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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