It’s time to rethink guns in this country. There are plenty of nonpartisan common sense reforms that can coexist with the Second Amendment that lawmakers should consider before jumping to tired partisan talking points.
It’s almost as if with each heartbreaking tragedy we learn nothing and continue to talk past one another without coming up with solutions. How many innocent lives have to be taken before action happens? We need to stop putting temporary Band-Aids on the problem and get to the root of it, even if that means hard conversations.
It’s no secret that gun control is a controversial topic that often results in heated debate, but these debates are necessary in order for change to happen. Lawmakers with different viewpoints need to have these discussions in order to come together to find common sense solutions – that’s what they were hired to do. With all the political vitriol in our country right now, it seems like the appropriate time to heal the country with legislation and regulations that can save lives.
I think we can all agree, without debate, that AR-15s (the type of weapon used in 10 of the recent mass shootings) and military style weapons have no place in the hands of children. Additionally, the age to purchase a rifle should be increased from 18 to 21, a small step but a necessary one.
Where there should be a debate is around the issue of the sale of these firearms, since even the family of the creator of the AR-15 has said they were not intended for civilian use.
Another point many should be able to agree on with little difficulty is that guns should be kept out of the hands of domestic abusers, criminals and the mentally ill. We can do this by strengthening our National Instant Criminal Background Check System, known as NICS, and by passing Fix NICS legislation, which has bipartisan support when written as a clean bill – meaning that the bill stands alone without any additions or variations and just strictly focuses on improvement of the system. The passage of this legislation failed in 2017 because it wasn’t clean. Freedom Caucus members and a few other GOP lawmakers attached a nationalized conceal carry reciprocity measure which tanked the chances of the bill back in December, and now they’re looking to continue that NRA-backed fight arguing that the two should be packaged together – diminishing the chances of passage.
Gun Control and Gun Rights Cartoons
If members of Congress tries to tack on additional items, like they sometimes do during shutdown showdowns, the legislation could be dead in the water. But in the wake of the Parkland shooting there is an effort to resurface the legislation; some notable supporters are Sens. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., Tim Scott, R-S.C., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lisa Murkowksi, R-Alaska.
The Fix NICS Act seeks to increase state compliance with and improve the accuracy of existing background check systems for the sale of firearms. It would also penalize federal agencies that fail to report relevant records and would provide more federal funding to reporting and tracking of domestic violence records.
While this legislation alone wouldn’t address all the problems related to gun violence, it is a good start and would hopefully spark further action to fix the mass shooting epidemic plaguing our country. However, I am hopeful that Congress is willing to work to address this important topic based upon the willingness to debate the issue in town hall settings with survivors, parents and community advocates.
Just last night CNN held a town hall in Florida with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., National Rife Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch and Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla. Obviously, there were a lot of sparks that flew during the debate, but some headway was made when Rubio broke with the NRA on some critical points, including raising the age from 18 to 21 to purchase a rifle, opposition to arming teachers; he also mentioned a willingness to rethink his support of high volume magazines.
I think the more these types of forums are held, the more both Democrats and Republicans will be willing to compromise and come to the table on common sense solutions that will ultimately protect Americans. There has been so much talking past one another on almost every issue, especially this one, that a dialogue is essential to understand where there are commonalities, differences and negotiable stances. These forums could lead to unprecedented changes that could have a positive impact.
In the coming days, weeks and months, we are sure to hear a lot about gun control and what measures can be put in place to protect our kids and it’s OK for there to be disagreement. But it’s not OK for inaction to continue any longer. It’s not OK for our kids to go to school in fear and for parents to wonder if their child will come home. It’s time for everyone to make their voices heard and to be open to a dialogue on how to get the core of problem and to make sure not one more innocent life is taken.