Rick Marshall: We must do something, rather than nothing, on gun safety
I wrote Rep. Doug LaMalfa following the mass shootings this year in Las Vegas and last year in Orlando, to request action on the issue of gun safety.
Having received no response to my letters, I am hoping the power of the press will get his attention.
My observation is that Americans are starting to shut down from fatigue on this issue. I saw many online comments along the lines of, “Since nothing was done when school children were killed (a reference to the shootings at an elementary school in Connecticut nearly five years ago), then of course nothing will be done now.”
It has become a case of, “Another day, another mass shooting. Ho, hum.”
The Safer Communities Act has just been introduced in Congress. It will reduce and prevent gun violence by keeping guns away from people who should not have them, based on mental health or substance abuse issues or a history of violence. It provides states with enforcement tools, and provides resources to improve mental health services. It includes important “due process” provisions for people to have gun ownership rights restored, if they are affected by its provisions.
This legislation supports the suggestions I offered Mr. LaMalfa, which are summarized below. It would be acceptable to me if he did not share the same perspective on these points; but I would expect to be told where he stands, and potentially have the opportunity to engage in some helpful dialogue.
Legislation which creates restrictions or regulations of guns violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
My perspective: The Second Amendment begins with the phrase, “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state.” I am concerned that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” has overshadowed this initial statement.
The right to bear arms should not be absolutely unlimited. I have seen the tragic results of this over and over again. The passage of compassionate and thoughtful legislation which will reduce the fear we live in, and increase the safety we enjoy as a nation, in no way conflicts with the Second Amendment’s concept of “well-regulated.”
If restrictions are placed on gun purchases or gun ownership, they won’t affect criminals because they don’t obey laws anyway.
My perspective: Laws are enacted to define what constitutes criminal behavior in the first place. If we didn’t enact laws because criminals didn’t obey them, we wouldn’t enact any laws! I see the primary purpose of laws is to give the justice system the tools it needs to keep our communities safe. I am confident that local law enforcement agencies would support the enactment of regulations, such as universal background checks, which will provide them such tools.
Guns are not the problem; people have found, and will continue to find, other means to kill other people.
My perspective: There are plenty of stories about how knives, hammers, or even fertilizer in the case of the Oklahoma City bombing, can and have been used with tragic results. However, certain types of guns have the ability to kill many people in an extremely short time, and they have no other purpose. These weapons should not be in the hands of anyone except military and law enforcement personnel.
Restrictions based on a “terror watch list” may infringe on the rights of some law-abiding citizens without due process.
My perspective: I share the concern about infringing on people’s rights without due process. I would support including language that provides a mechanism for citizens to appeal their placement on the watch list.
All of us now live in fear that our lives in this great country are not as safe as we had believed them to be.
The unending wave of mass shootings in this country has created an environment in which families are now fearful in places that were formerly safe havens: concerts, theaters, night clubs, churches and most importantly, schools.
It is no longer acceptable to hide behind the cloak of the Second Amendment and take no action. It is not acceptable to limit ourselves to an “all or nothing” approach; saying that any proposal “would not have prevented what happened” in Las Vegas, Orlando or Connecticut is not valid.
We must do something, rather than nothing, for the safety of ourselves and our children.
Please join me in asking Doug LaMalfa to support HR 4142, the Safer Communities Act of 2017.
Rick Marshall lives in Grass Valley.
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