There are a handful of issues that polarize our nation and become political issues which tend to divide party lines. Some examples are gay marriage, climate change, abortion, the death penalty, and healthcare. The second amendment is another example that is drawing a lot of attention due to the publicity of recent shootings. It states “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
On the extremes there are those that think guns have no place in society and those that think everyone should carry a gun everywhere. Most people live in reality and land somewhere in the middle. Recently, my Facebook feed has had countless postings roll through about how making meth and heroine illegal has not taken them off the streets so it will not work for guns; how we do not blame cars for drunk drivers so why do we blame guns; and likened Obama to Hitler because neither want you to own guns. While these might all be cute posts to some, they dramatically oversimplify the issue and misconstrue the solutions being proposed.
Reflecting on the 2nd amendment, the right to bear arms is infringed upon with some exceptions today. We cannot carry weapons on to a commercial flight, in to courtrooms, nor countless other businesses and offices. In addition, documented gang members, those previously convicted of gun violence crimes, terrorists, the mentally ill, etc. are faced with restrictions. As an example, should a documented gang member be allowed to legally purchase a gun upon their release from prison where they spent time for murder and carry it on to a commercial flight? If you think yes, you might as well stop reading now. If you think no, then you agree that the second amendment is worthy of some exceptions and establishing the specific details around when and how to impose restrictions is the key.
At different points in time, the NRA and other organizations have painted a picture of how if any gun controls are passed, law enforcement would be breaking in to homes to confiscate high ammunition magazines, assault rifles, and more. In 1995, the NRA characterization of the ATF as jack booted thugs and Nazi’s led to the resignation of membership by George H. W. Bush and others. This characterization on what gun control would mean lives on today. In reality, polls show that what most Americans want is simple; to see the gun show loophole closed.
On any given weekend, anyone can go any of the dozens of gun shows happening throughout the US and buy as many guns as they want with no background check and no registration. Closing this loophole is what the parents of Sandy Hook sought for legislation, it is how most of the guns used in the Columbine shooting were obtained and it seems like a common sense approach which is gun friendly. There is paperwork involved in buying a pet from the humane society, there are background checks for volunteering with youth sports, but there is nothing to prevent the previously referenced recently released convicted gang member from buying lots of guns.
Locally, schools in my area are working to pass referendums to get funding via tax increases to rebuild school entrances and add safety precautions for improving lockdown abilities during emergencies. My kids’ schools routinely practice code red lockdowns and that is a sad reality of the world we live in. Some extremists would argue we should arm school staff or similar but that is not the answer and it brings forth countless complications. Even in the recent Oregon school shootings, there were conceal and carry members on campus who heard the shooting and opted not to engage for fear of the pending SWAT team arriving and being confused and shooting them.
In America, our gun murder rate per capita is twenty times the average of other developed nations and five times more than the next closest (Italy). In 2007 Missouri ended a background check and handgun licensing program that had been in place for decades only to see a 25% increase in firearm homicides follow while homicides committed by other means in the state remained consistent. In 1995 Connecticut created a handgun permit system and extended background checks to private sales and has seen a 40% decrease in gun murders.
Let’s admit that we have a problem and can do better. It is true that closing the gun show loophole will not mitigate every scenario but it is a common sense approach to improving an abused gap without restricting 2nd amendment rights.