I feel like the gun control debate often comes down to something eerily similar to that old beer commercial where fans of the beverage either supported the first or second claim and argued about it. The Second Amendment reads:
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.
Proponents of gun control measures look to the first part of this while opponents the second. Now, I have friends who do believe that an assault weapons ban will start us on that slippery slope to banning guns all together. I do not agree with that (and neither does Supreme Justice Antonin Scalia, as he said in the Heller v. DCdecision where he said people can own guns but the government can restrict access to some).
A more in depth look at the ban and the original law’s efficacy is coming today or tomorrow. Now, I don’t think that not passing the ban is the end of the world — these weapons are used in a very small percentage of gun crimes but I think dropping it from the Senate bill shows a huge lack of courage. While you are more likely to die on your way to the airport rather than during a flight, a car crash doesn’t wipe out the numbers of people in one event that a plane crash can. (Please, no comments about small aircraft, most of us are not flying in planes that carry four to six people.) The same can be said of these mass shootings.
Some good news about the Senate bill is that it includes a provision to require universal background checks for gun purchases, which I think is the most important thing we can do. No, it would not have prevented the tragedy in December but it would have stopped other shootings — the one at Virginia Tech. for instance. A new Quinnipiac University Poll shows that 85 percent of gun owners support universal background checks.
If some foreign power or entity (al Qaeda, anyone?) came into our country and killed the number of people that we are killing ourselves with guns, we would demand our leaders do something. We need to respond to this crisis the same way.
US Senate switchboard: 202-224-3121
US House of Representatives switchboard: 202-225-3121
You can call either number to get your Representative or Senator and the latter is often easier to get through to that. If you don’t know who your reps are, just give the operator your zip code.