BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS T-SHIRTS
Beyond the assault weapon ban, Obama’s plan will save lives – NY Daily News
President Obama’s proposals to ban military-style semi-automatic “assault rifles” again will grab the headlines, but more important — and far more likely to have a chance of getting through Congress — are some of the other measures he announced Wednesday.
One is making it a crime to buy guns knowingly for criminals, drug addicts, mentally ill people who are legally barred from buying weapons themselves, or to sell knowingly to them. That will probably do more to reduce the street gun violence that kills thousands of people every year than an assault-rifle ban.
Handguns are used in most gun violence, not assault rifles, and another proposal — closing the loophole that exempts private sellers of any kind of guns from the requirement to clear buyers’ names with the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System database — might be even more effective in reducing crime committed with guns. Shame on Congress if it can’t pass a law that does that.
American history since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock shows that the right to keep and bear arms has been an individual common-law right since the very beginning — the right recognized and protected, not created, by the Second Amendment. The right always came with a civic duty, to use those arms to defend and protect the community when called to serve in the militia.
It has also always come with regulations: The colonies kept registries of gun owners and their weapons. Western towns like Dodge City in the 19th century required visiting cowboys to leave their weapons with the sheriff. Sensible regulation does not constitute the “infringement” the Second Amendment forbids, no matter what the National Rifle Association says.
Sensible gun regulations today should aim at keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of those who everybody agrees should not have them — not keeping them out of the hands of as many law-abiding people as possible. New York State has just decided otherwise, at least as far as “assault rifles” go, but its new gun law also applies to handguns, banning those with detachable magazines that hold more than 7 rounds.
Obama’s proposal to ban or restrict the magazines with 15, 30 or even 100 rounds, the kind that James Holmes used in the Aurora movie theater last summer and Adam Lanza used in Newtown last month, might have more of a chance of becoming federal law than banning guns that hold them, owned by millions of Americans who use them mostly at shooting ranges.
But there are other things that could be even more effective in heading off mass shootings in public places. One is the provision in the new New York law allowing mental health care providers to report the names of patients who are considered to pose serious danger to themselves or others, and then empowering law enforcement authorities to seize any guns they might own. Steps that Obama has proposed to improve the availability and increase the quality of mental health care and counseling in schools are equally important, and at least as important as any gun control measures he put forward.
What the country needs now is a sensible, sensitive discussion about what parts of all the proposals that have been made can find the agreement of gun owners and public-safety advocates alike. We have to find common ground to have a chance of reducing mass shootings and other gun crime.
Obama tried, even taking the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre at his word by proposing $4 billion to keep more “good guys with guns” — police — on the streets and provide training to give law enforcement, first responders, and school officials a better chance of dealing with shooters like Lanza. But how did LaPierre respond? By vilifying the President, the media and those concerned about our gun violence problem and promising the “fight of the century” against all new gun control proposals.
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, severely wounded in the mass shooting at a mall in Tucson two years ago, and her husband, Mark Kelly, both gun owners themselves, have formed a new group called Americans for Responsible Solutions to encourage constructive dialog.
NRA members who find that LaPierre does not speak for them should contribute to that by speaking up. The sooner they do, the better.
Whitney is author of "Living with Guns: A Liberal’s Case for the Second Amendment.”