Sunday, July 22, 2012

Let's Talk About Guns

The tragic shooting in Colorado is all over the news, and rightfully so. But there will now be the obligatory national debate about gun control that always follows on the heals of these human disasters. Frankly, I find the whole exercise incredibly hypocritical and a general waste of time money and resources. To me, the issue of gun control is not nearly as complicated as people seem to want to make it.

People have a right to "keep and bear arms" -a right guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution. Having said that, it is also incumbent upon the government to regulate this right to both preserve it and to protect all citizens from abuses of that right. I think we can all readily agree that, while all citizens have the right to own and/or possess a gun, there are those to whom the right must be denied for the protection of the rest of us. That would include criminals and people with mental problems. In those cases the safety of the general public requires that the government takes steps to regulate the sale and possession of firearms.

The question then becomes how to regulate it without unnecessarily infringing upon the rights of good, mentally stable and law abiding citizens. The answer is by establishing and uniformly enforcing a 'licensing' procedure which includes the background checks and 3 day waiting periods we now have in place under Federal Law. I would, however, make a couple of changes. First, I would increase the waiting period to 5 'business days'. That would ensure proper completion of the background check before the buyer takes possession of the weapon. I would also require the background check include checking fingerprints and DNA. Next I would not extend this right to anyone except U. S. citizens and resident aliens in good standing and current status. Also, with regard to the background check, it should include a national search for any history of mental problems (and if any are uncovered, the entire process would stop until a Federally certified psychiatrist or panel conducts an examination and determines there are no further mental problems and that the correction does not rely on continued adherence to medication.

The next part of enforcement and regulation involves penalties for breaking these laws. Anyone who uses a firearm in the commission of a crime should be given a minimum additional penalty -and that should be severe enough to make it a deterrent. I would suggest a minimum jail sentence of 3 years if no one was injured and 10 years if anyone was injured during the commission of a crime or in it's attempt. I think it would also be necessary to extend severe penalties with minimum jail time to people dealing in illegal firearms or break laws while selling otherwise legal firearms.

As for the race to debate firearms control following every tragedy such as the one in Colorado, All I have to say about that is: "Stop talking and do something" -or have the courtesy to shut up about it....

Live Long and Prosper...

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