It's Past Time For Talk; It's Now Time For Decisive Action To Protect Us From Gun Violence

GunMap-1.pngLet's get this out of the way first:

Those who advocate for new Gun Responsibility Laws believe as strongly as anyone that our 2nd Amendment rights must be protected.

But there's no reason in the universe why we can't institute laws regarding responsibility in the purchase and use of guns in this country just like we demand responsible use of any number of other commonly-owned things, even everyday things like cars.

  • If you want to drive a car in this country you have to study for, take, and pass both a written and practical exam. This is a reasonable and responsible rule and the same should be true for guns.
  • If you want to drive a car in this country you have to register it with the state and pay an annual registration fee — for each car you own. This is a reasonable and responsible rule and the same should be true for guns. 
  • If you want to drive a car in this country you have to renew your license to drive it every 4 years. This is a reasonable and responsible rule and the same should be true for guns, but annually.
  • If you want to drive a car in this country you have to have it physically inspected for safety periodically, in some states annually. This is a reasonable and responsible rule and the same should be required for guns.
  • If you sell a car in this country you have to notify the state that you've done so by transferring the title to the new owner, even when the transaction takes place between two private individuals. This is a reasonable and responsible rule and the same should be true for gun ownership.
  • You aren't allowed to drive a car in this country if you're mentally incompetent to do so. This is a reasonable and responsible rule and the same should be true for gun ownership.
  • If you own a car in this country, its serial number, or VIN, is entered into a national database so the owner can be tracked readily. This is a reasonable and responsible rule, and the same should be the case for guns.
  • Individuals with felony DUIs on their record are forbidden to drive motor vehicles. This is a reasonable and responsible rule and other felons who have committed violent crimes should never be allowed to own a gun, either.
  • People with mental illness should not be allowed to own a gun, and people who have a mentally ill person (or persons) living in their home should not be allowed to keep a gun in their home. This is a reasonable and responsible rule that minimizes risks.
  • And if you want to drive a car in this country, you have to take out liability insurance in the event you even accidentally injure or kill someone (insurance which often comes with restrictions on where you can keep your car, who can use your car, etc.). This is a reasonable and responsible rule and the same should be true for guns!

No, these kinds of rules will not prevent criminals from stealing guns and committing crimes with them. But thieves steal cars every day and we don't hear anyone advocating for eliminating vehicle registrations, competency exams, licensing fees, or annual safety inspections just because car thieves are out there "ruining it for the responsible drivers."

Reasonable rules for responsible gun ownership is a winning argument.

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These are common sense steps that should offend no one. They are things we routinely do without complaint for the privilege of owning and operating a motor vehicle, which are also potentially dangerous and are responsible for taking thousands of lives.

But with the exception of the assault weapon ban, we won't hear our legislators or political pundits discussing a single one of these measures, all of which would go a long way towards ensuring gun ownership responsibility and minimizing gun casualties while still fully respecting an individual's Constitutional right to own and operate a gun.

What we'll hear instead is a lot of blather about mental health issues and the "bad kinds of guns," which will do nothing but enrage both sides on this issue, and as always, nothing will get done. Well, perhaps a bandage will get slapped on the problem, but it won't resolve anything, and after the next mass murder the most vocal of the gun rights people will say, "See? The ban on assault weapons didn't prevent this mass murder so it should be repealed so we can have our toys back!"

And it probably will be. Why?

Because we're governed by a bunch of cowards. We don't have anyone with a strong enough backbone in our government to do what's been done to place restrictions on a woman's Constitutional 4th Amendment right to privacy in obtaining an abortion, and start placing restrictions on who can own a gun, how guns can be purchased, how they have to be accounted for, how they have to be maintained, and so forth.

Conservatives in state legislatures all across this nation have slowly and systematically enacted cumbersome rules that in many cases end up acting as complete bans on the ability of women to obtain a legal,Constitutionally protected medical procedure, doing end runs around the United States Constitution and the Supreme court in the process.

States have set up extraordinary restrictions such as regulating the size of the janitorial closets, hallways, or exam rooms themselves; requiring all doctors to have privileges at the nearest hospital knowing the hospitals have refused to grant them; requiring women to wait 72 hours between the first counseling session with her doctor and the abortion; women being subjected to physically invasive trans-vaginal ultrasounds; doctors being required by law to lie to women about the non-existent risk of suicide — the list of outrageous regulations and restrictions on this Constitutionally protected right is extensive.

We don't advocate going anywhere near these extremes (see the above list), but use them to illustrate that it is not without precedent for state legislators to act rather than "have discussions" about how to regulate our Constitutional rights.

And those who have taken these actions do so under the guise of caring about "human life." So what about protecting the right to life of actual living, breathing, sentient human beings from very real, grisly, terrifying deaths by guns as they attempt to enjoy the freedom to congregate in malls, movie theaters, churches, and schools; the freedom to play the music in their car as loud as they want whether the drunk guy walking by likes it or not; the freedom to walk home no matter whether or not the self-appointed neighborhood vigilante thinks they belong there.

This is about everyone else's right to life, and everyone else's right to freedom, and everyone else's right to worship, and study, and gather, anyplace they please, without fear of being gunned down in cold blood because some maniac had access to assault weapons and our government did nothing to protect us from them.

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Owning and operating a weapon is a grave responsibility and it should be regarded as such by our society. And because of this, we as a people should have the right to demand gun owners abide by a set of common sense safety rules — Gun Responsibility Laws — in order to actually own one.

You may have certain types of guns for home protection, for hunting, for skeet or target shooting; but you may also have to start living with some restrictions on them, just like the rest of us do with the restrictions placed on our rights.

From The District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that:

Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. Pp. 54–56.

We've lost 80 innocent bystanders to mass murder shooting rampages in just this past calendar year alone, 20 of whom were little children ages six and seven. In 2008 and 2009, 5,740 children died from gun violence in this country. That's one child killed every three hours; eight children every single day; 55 children gunned down every week, week in and week out.

We took our country to war and sacrificed more than 4,000 men and women to dismantle the ability of the murderers who killed 2,977 people with airplanes on 9/11/2001, yet we fight for Americans' "right" to keep weapons of mass destruction in this country regardless how many innocents are murdered by our own citizens. We're bloody hypocrites.

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As Senator-elect Chris Murphy representing Newtown, CT said, "We don't need a national conversation; we need national action." We would demand it if these deaths were at the hands of terrorists. In fact, we willingly abide by the rule to remove our shoes at airports because one guy tried and failed to set off a bomb in his shoe on an airplane, and we willingly bring no more than 3 ounces of liquid per container while displaying them in see-through plastic bags, because of a failed bomb threat more than six years ago.

But when tens of thousands of people actually die year after year after year we do absolutely nothing to protect ourselves from this serious threat to our safety?

That's the definition of insanity right there.

It's time we take the Supreme Court up on Heller, which allows us to place prohibitions and rules on gun ownership; steps that have not yet been taken since that landmark ruling in 2008. It's been four years since Heller was handed down. It's been 13 years since the tragic mass shooting at Columbine. It's been a gruesome year filled with more than a dozen mass shootings, and it's been just a short, heart-wrenching time since a school full of little children experienced the worst nightmare they could possibly have imagined.

It's time to do something.

Call your legislators — both federal and state — and tell them you want gun responsibility laws that make guns as tightly regulated as cars. There is simply no excuse not to.

Find all of your Representatives — federal and state — here.

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In Memory Of

Trayvon Martin, 17

Jordan Davis, 17

Demetrius Cruz, 15

Keondra Hooks, 1

Nizeal Banks, 5

Dajae Coleman, 14

Ronald Wallace, 13

Bilal Amin, 2

Joel Johnson, 12

Jazzlyn Johnson, 13

Jaxs Johnson, 15

Pebbles Johnson, 17

Kareem Fedd, 17

Daniel Smith, 15

Joseph "Lil JoJo" Coleman, 17

Aliyah Shell, 6

Keijahnae "Nu Nu" Robinson, 15

Layla Jones, 6

Amber Stanley, 17

Briana Allen, 5

Tamaris Steward, 11

Khali Singleton, 8

Kristyana Jackson, 7

Lloyd Morgan, 4

Nizzel George, 5

Kemar Bryan Brooks, 14

Mitchell Murch III, 11

Mary Claire Murch, 9

Jorge Azios, 3

Delric Miller, 9 mos

TJ Darrisaw, 12

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Madeleine F. Hsu, 6

Catherine V. Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison N. Wyatt, 6

And the hundreds of other children lost to gun violence in 2012

(If you know of another child lost to guns this year, please let us know in the comments section below and we will add their name to this list. Thank you.)

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Winning Words when discussing this issue: Gun Responsibility Laws (not gun "control" laws), common sense gun safetyright to life, freedom to congregate, and just freedom in general.

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