Legislation should pass to promote responsible gun ownership

Columnist and Columnist

Ever since the story of the Trayvon Martin shooting took off, and more media attention has been given to the case, it seems the newest game that right-wing pundits like Sean Hannity and Mark Levine are playing is “name the non-Trayvon gun violence case, and talk about how it’s not getting the same amount of media attention.”

On Monday, Hannity spoke about a woman being shot in California, and cited the number of shooting deaths in inner-city Chicago on any given day.

This to me sounds like someone advocating for a change in gun laws, even though a poll on Hannity’s website shows that almost 80 percent of the respondents opined that gun control laws were not the problem in the Trayvon Martin case.

I would like to ask those who answered this way in Hannity’s poll exactly what they feel the problem is then. My guess is they would answer that the problem is the “liberal media,” as that is their base answer for almost anything that is wrong in our country.

I come from a family of hunters (my dad was a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association), so I was raised to believe in the rights of Americans to keep and own guns.

Because of this, I was also taught very early on how to safely operate and handle a gun.

Today, I still support Americans’ Second Amendment right to bear arms, but I think that sensible gun control laws should be only common sense in a country with approximately 260 million guns owned by approximately 52 million households.

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.”

Why is it that the Second Amendment doesn’t borrow wording from the First Amendment and say, “Congress shall make no law…” restricting the right to bear arms?

Because it was not the founders’ intent that we should never pass a law putting any limits on guns, but only to ensure that guns would never be outright banned from being owned by our citizens.

I think responsible legislation limiting — or at least more clearly defining — gun ownership rights is something that should have been done a long time ago.

There have been, of course, federal laws meant to regulate the gun ownership market in the past.

The assault weapons ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004 did a fairly good job of lowering gun violence from semi-automatic guns (weapons that fire one round every time the trigger is pulled) as well as fully-automatic guns (which continue to fire rounds as long as the trigger is depressed).

According to a 2004 report by The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the 10-year ban on assault weapons resulted in approximately 60,000 fewer assault weapon related crimes in the 10 years that the ban was in place.

But the bill was allowed to expire because Second Amendment activists saw it as a threat to their rights to own non-assault weapons.

Gun control of any kind has been a third rail in politics for years now (meaning you get burned if you try to touch it), and the blame cannot be laid entirely at the feet of the GOP. Democratic leaders — legislators as well as President Obama — have done nothing to move the conversation about gun control forward.

This is probably due to pro-gun rights paranoia.

Even though Obama has never said anything to indicate he may be for more gun control, gun sales have sky-rocketed since his inauguration in 2009 because of unsubstantiated fears that “Obama will take our guns away.”

The wake of the Trayvon Martin case would have been a perfect time to talk about gun laws in this country, as would have been after the attempted assassination of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011.

But both situations came and went without the state of America’s gun laws ever being brought up by those in a place to affect change.

Assault weapons bans would not have changed the outcome for Trayvon Martin because the gun used to shoot him was not an assault weapon, but as more laws are being proposed to loosen restrictions on when and where someone can carry a gun, the need for a national conversation about the state of our guns laws in this country is long overdue.

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