Little action to end gun violence

COMMENTARY BY
RYAN CAVISTON

Every country has its problems: Mexico outpaces the U.S. in obesity; Italy struggles with a maddeningly corrupt government; and seemingly everything in Australia can kill a human being. Comparatively speaking, the U.S.’s firearm problem is substantially easier to resolve; however, inaction on the part of Congress and state lawmakers is costing lives daily.

Forty-four school shootings took place in 2013 alone, resulting in the deaths of 28 children. Motor vehicle deaths eclipsed gun-related deaths by less than 2,000 deaths in 2010. A recent study by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta shows that firearm-related deaths will pass motor vehicle deaths in 2015. As vehicles become safer and penalties become greater for drunk driving, while the opposite trend has widely happened in firearm regulation.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the Safe Carry Protection Act into law last week. This law makes it illegal for law enforcement to detain a suspect for the purpose of validating his or her concealed carry permit. Terrifyingly, it also allows convicted felons to possess a firearm for the purpose of self-defense. It also provides for an individual to be armed while in a bar. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has applauded the legislation as the “most comprehensive pro-gun bill in Georgia state history,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Also on the national front, retired Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin claimed that the second coming of Christ will be led by an AR-15 toting Jesus, a passage evidently found in scripture. The AR-15 rifle is a highly successful civilian model of military weaponry and has been the firearm of choice in numerous mass shootings.

Even after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, and the percentage of people in support of comprehensive background checks and restrictions on the site of magazines approaching 90 percent according to the Huffington Post, no national action on gun control has occurred. As the National Rifle Association flexes its political muscle, thousands of American men, women and children will die.

Comprehensive gun laws are not necessarily the only method for curbing the high rate of death across the country. Common sense, something a gun-toting individual should not be lacking, is also a fundamental piece of the safety puzzle. A 2-year-old Utah boy was killed by his 3-year-old sister April 18 after their father left a .22 caliber rifle with a loaded magazine in the reach of his children. On the other hand, the firearm industry has found a new market with young children. Crickett Firearms is a proud manufacturer of “My First Rifle,” miniature .22 caliber rifles designed with young gun enthusiasts in mind.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens recently released a new book illustrating six changes he would make to the Constitution, two of which include gun laws. Partcipating in numerous debates on the issues, Stevens dissented with the 1997 Printz v. United States ruling, permitting states to opt out from federal background checks, and the 2008 Heller v. District of Columbia, the court’s first explicit upholding of firearm ownership for self-defense. One of his proposed amendments would require all states to participate in federal background checks, legislation not different from that proposed by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

The time for comprehensive gun control has come and gone. If Americans truly want to be safe, it is time for the vigilante charade to end; how many hooded teenagers have to die before we end the judge and jury game? The Second Amendment is arguably one of the most contested parts of the U.S. Constitution; however, it will remain a death sentence for tens of thousands until legislators stand up to the NRA and Americans recognize that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not found at the business end of a loaded firearm.

Contact the writer:
ryan.caviston@scranton.edu

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