Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gun Control - What is the Solution?

In light of yesterday's terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I wanted to take a break from my daily sports commentary that I enjoy providing on twitter (@cip23) and sometimes at this blog. Social networks and even the news stations were inundated with outrage and calls for immediate changes to our gun laws.

There were experts on both sides of the argument screaming at each other on the Piers Morgan Tonight show last night. I think that many were losing sight of the fact that 20 families had just lost their small children just before Christmas and countless families are dealing with the loss of their children’s' innocence forever.  Couldn't we all grieve together for at least one day instead of taking sides?

The point that the debate for gun violence needs to move forward is a valid one. I just question whether it was yesterday, in the middle of the fact finding, grief filled moments immediately following the events. I also think that those who just point to stats and say there are too many guns are naive in thinking that this is a solvable problem overnight. What do you think the answer is, get rid of all guns? It just isn't realistic. Come to the table with real solutions.

I, for one, think that the media coverage of these types of events is as much to blame that tragedies like these keep happening as any other contributing factor. I commend Anderson Cooper, of CNN, for purposely not mentioning the suspects name and for covering him as little as possible. I think that other potential killers see the 24/7 coverage that these attacks get and possibly crave that 7-10 days of coverage on countless cable stations.

But the real discussion is guns. Why do we have so many darn guns is the question people keep asking? I will disclose that I am a gun owner. I sleep within 5 feet of a loaded gun. It is locked in a safe where only I can access. I also have long guns that I use to hunt. I believe in responsible gun ownership. When my kids get older, I plan to teach them about gun safety and how to shoot.

I am; however, open to some changes in federal laws. I do think that there can be some common sense changes that everyone should be able to agree. The government let the federal ban on assault weapons expire in 2004. I am not opposed to some form of that ban being reinstated. A limit on size of magazine clips would also be something I would support. I don't, however, think that these will have a major impact on the reduction of gun violence.

The number one thing I am in favor, and do think could have an effect, is the requirement of all States to impose background checks on those trying to purchase firearms. I also think they need to be done even more detailed then are done now. It seems to me that all of these mass killers have some sort of mental history in their past. I would think there could be easily be a link between the databases of the agencies handling the gun permits and those of the medical field that could prevent patients with a questionable mental history from obtaining such permits. I know on the NJ firearm ID card, there are mental health questions but it is easy for anyone to just check "no history". If, during the background check, a doctor had put a red flag in the system, it wouldn't matter what the applicant checked.

There is also the issue of carrying hand guns. Some states allow it, even openly, and others don't. When incidents like the one that happened at Sandy Hook School occur, there is discussion about what if there were someone that was armed, wouldn't it have been better? The opposition to carrying laws say there are studies that say it enrages the killer and more will die. Well I would like to see those studies. Why then are there armed air marshals on most of our airplanes since 9/11? Is that marshal not going to engage a terrorist or other armed person? I think responsible people, who go through training and background checks to become licensed gun carriers are not the issue and to go after that aspect of gun controls is to have a different agenda in my opinion.

Gun control is a complicated issue. If it weren't for the troubled economy over the last 6 or so years, it probably would have been more hotly debated during the last two presidential elections. I don't think any of us have all of the answers. I fall somewhere in the middle of the issue as someone who is a gun owner, believes in gun rights but is in favor of some common sense changes to our laws. I also believe that we need to think outside the box on these mass killings and look at the media coverage and medical fields and find a way to link them into the discussion. We are the greatest country in the world with the offer of the greatest dream. But too many of those dreams are being dashed in an instant and we must make it stop.

1 comment:

  1. First, let me say I found this to very well written and intelligently thought out. I pretty much agree with everything said here and comment to show support for the initiative you took with writing this. Guns are a difficult subject to handle but not so that it can not be discussed and resolved.

    I completely agree the media has a responsibility here that is being ignored. The constant bombardment of information that for the most part is redundant as useless. The coverage of the event only helps fuel the ego of the criminal. Its been proven over and over again through criminal profiling. They seek the attention for their actions to justify their reasons. This empowers them, its why its done on such a public and heinous scale. But no one is willing to point the finger at them.

    Its easy to say guns are the problem, get rid of them all. It would be easy to stop drunk driving by mandating public transportation only. Does it solve the real issue of over indulgence with lack of responsibility, absolutely not. We need to fix the problem, the real problem! That being what is broken in a man or woman who does such acts of violence here. We need to move forward on that issue and stop focusing on issues that only get better news ratings or more votes.