Tom Behlmer: Time to stand up to the NRA
March 2, 2018
If we are going to escape gun violence, it will require Congress stand up to the National Rifle Association.
Will our congressman, Rep. Doug LaMalfa, side with those wanting to pass reform? Judging by his past, it seems highly unlikely.
The Constitution's Second Amendment states "a well regulated militia, has … the right of the people to bear arms." The key words are "well regulated," which is so often left out of the argument. Advocates of reform are not advocating banning weapons, so please don't imply that's the goal or claim your constitutional rights are being infringed.
Our right to safety is being infringed by gun violence and absence of laws to block those who should not be able to purchase a gun.
In 2016, our Senator Feinstein introduced a bill to prevent people on law enforcement's terror watch list to be blocked from buying a gun. The bill allowed the person wanting to buy a gun to challenge the decision in court. This bill died in Congress.
Efforts to increase public safety, but preserve gun ownership rights, could include closing the background check loophole for guns purchased at gun shows, ban high capacity magazines, no sale of guns to those on the terror watch list or those convicted of domestic violence. We will never be able to stop all mass shootings even with the strictest gun laws, but we can slow the carnage.
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There are 33,000 gun-related deaths each year or far more than terrorists attacks, but we have surrendered some of our constitutionally mandated civil liberties to curb terrorism. When will Congress stand up to the NRA? Is the top leadership of the NRA facilitating domestic terrorism? Even most NRA members are for stricter gun control laws as is the general public (www.pollingreport.com/guns).
The president of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, has said the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Really? The victims of the Las Vegas shooting could have all been armed and it would not have helped. What about the Texas church shooting where the shooter was shot with a rifle? Still, 26 people died before the shooter was shot. LaPierre's statement assumes:
The defender has sufficient marksman ship skills to hit most likely a moving target under extreme pressure surrounded by total chaos.
The defender is not shot first.
The defender is in the line of sight without people getting in the way trying to escape or jostling the defender affecting their aim.
The defender will have a chance to get off only a couple of shots before they become the focus of the better armed killer.
The defender is willing to put themselves in harm's way.
Some claim we should instead focus on mental health. Europe and Japan have far fewer mass shootings. Are they immune from mental health issues or are Americans more crazy? They do have much stricter gun controls. We have 5 percent of the world's population, but have 31 percent of the world's mass shootings (CNN, Nov. 6, 2017). We are going in the wrong direction in limiting the ability of people with mental health issues from buying guns. Rep. LaMalfa voted for (HJ 40) and President Trump signed on Feb. 28, 2017 to repeal a rule that required the Social Security administration to report people who receive disability payments due to a mental health disability be reported to the FBI database, which is used to determine the individual's eligibility when purchasing a gun.
LaMalfa recently voted for the concealed carry reciprocity bill that would let gun owners with concealed carry weapons travel to other states with their firearms. California has strict concealed carry rules as well as other gun control laws. If this is signed into law, people from other states with less stringent concealed carry rules could legally bring their guns into our state.
LaMalfa will never vote for reasonable gun reform laws and I promise to run naked up Broad Street in a snowstorm if he proves me wrong.
As a parent with a child attending our local high school, the Florida shooting is very troubling as it is the eighth just this year. How can I not think Congress, NRA and Doug LaMalfa, because of their inaction, are not culpable if there is local mass shooting?
There have been 1,600 deaths from mass shootings since Newtown (New York Daily News, Feb. 14, 2018).
To responsible gun owners: no one wants to take your guns, we just want common sense safety laws. We can start by with replacing LaMalfa in 2018 with someone, Democrat or Republican.
Tom Behlmer lives in Grass Valley.