10 Thoughts on Gun Control in the U.S.

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Gun control is the most emotionally charged issue in America. Critics of health care legislation may talk about how thousands will die; tax reform opponents can warn of Armaggedon. But in the wake of a mass shooting such as the recent incident in Parkland, Fla., real victims and their families step forward and share their stories of terror and grief. But how can we prevent another Parkland, or Sandy Hook, or Columbine? More to the point, how can we prevent another mass shooting without affecting millions of law-abiding citizens exercising their Second-Amendment rights? It’s not the first time we’ve had this debate; sadly, it will not be the last.

A display of shotguns at the 2014 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. © Mitch Barrie

10. “The biggest problem with the gun control debate has been its failure to boil down slogans to proposals. That problem won’t be alleviated so long as the media insist on putting mourning teenagers on television with the chyron ‘DO SOMETHING.’ Something is nothing unless someone puts some actual proposals on the table.”

— Conservative columnist Ben Shapiro, saying anti-gun advocates need to outline specific proposals that would prevent mass shootings.


9. “Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening background checks!”

— President Donald Trump, in a tweet asking for bipartisan support. Among President Trump’s other suggestions: a ban on bump stocks, an age limit on the purchase of AR-15s, and arming school teachers, all of which have been met with varying degrees of support.


8. “The president, who I’ve interviewed multiple times before he was president, has said he absolutely is strong on the Second Amendment, he understands that no gun control law has ever reduced crime. And so the fact that they are saying that is very interesting politically.”

— Journalist and gun rights advocate Emily Miller


7. “Like abortion, immigration and political correctness, assault weapons cleave the country into sharply divided camps, separated by their vocabulary and coarsely cynical about each other’s motives. Even (the AR-15) name is controversial. Opponents call it an “assault rifle,” arguing that it is designed solely to kill people and has no legitimate recreational use. Its defenders, who prefer to say “semiautomatic rifle” or “military-style rifle,” counter that it’s no different from other rifles and is suitable for hunting, target shooting and self-defense. The NRA dubbed it “America’s rifle.”

— The Washington Post, in a story entitled “The AR-15: ‘America’s rifle’ or illegitimate killing machine?” A Gallup Poll taken in 2017 after the Las Vegas massacre found 48 percent of Americans, “Would support a law making it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles.”


6. “Israel’s gun policy is living proof of the arguments the American gun lobby has been making for years. Gun rights advocates contend that the way to stop mass shootings is by ensuring that there are always well-armed citizens present who can neutralize the shooter. … When terrorists attacked a school in Maalot in 1974, Israel did not declare every school a gun-free zone. It passed a law mandating armed security in schools, provided weapons training to teachers and today runs frequent active shooter drills. There have been only two school shootings since then, and both have ended with teachers killing the terrorists.”

IsraelNationalNews.com. The Israeli website noted that, “Gun control has been proven to be a dismal failure in Israel. The Israeli Arab communities are rife with illegal weapons, with some police estimates putting the number of unlicensed weapons in the Arab sector as high as 500,000.”


5. “I don’t support (arming teachers), and I would admit to you right now I answer that as much as a father as I do as a senator. The notion that my kids are going to school with teachers that are armed with a weapon is not something that, quite frankly, I’m comfortable with.”

— Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), during a CNN town hall event, on the concept of arming teachers. One of his concerns is that an armed school staff member could be mistaken for the shooter by responding law enforcement officers.


4. “Enforce Everything: Oddly those calling for more laws to be added to the already overly tufted books of law regarding firearms may not realize just how many laws already exist. Simple enforcement of existing laws would cut down on uncounted numbers of people owning guns, possessing guns, and utilizing guns.”

— Conservative radio host Kevin McCullough. This is a common mantra of those who want to maintain a status quo on gun laws. They note that many mass shooters violate multiple laws, and passing more laws will be ineffective. McCullough offered several other points he believe would help in mass school shootings, from holding active shooter drills to placing metal detectors in every school.


3. “We need to repeal the Second Amendment because most gun-control legislation is ineffective when most Americans have a guaranteed constitutional right to purchase deadly weaponry in nearly unlimited quantities. There’s a good case to be made for owning a handgun for self-defense, or a rifle for hunting. There is no remotely sane case for being allowed to purchase, as (Stephen) Paddock did, 33 firearms in the space of a year. But that change can’t happen without a constitutional fix.”

New York Times writer Bret Stephens, renewing a call he made after last year’s Las Vegas shooting to repeal the second amendment. Even in the aftermath of a great tragedy this proposal is on the fringe. It would mean a huge reversal of a constitutional right that would be virtually impossible to pass through Congress and even more difficult to enforce without enacting a police state. Just for the sake of argument though, to repeal a constitutional amendment requires the approval of a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate — no easy feat on any issue these days. And keep in mind that 44 states have constitutional provisions specifying the right to keep and bear arms.


2. “I’m here because my daughter has no voice. She was murdered last week and she was taken from us. Shot nine times on the third floor. We as a country failed our children.”

— Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow Pollack was among the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Pollack’s emotional plea came during a special session at the White House involving family members of school shootings at Parkland, Columbine, Sandy Hook and elsewhere.


1. “The answers are not easy, and they inevitably involve a trade-off: accepting the unacceptable, or restricting our freedoms. The three big ones are freedom of the press (publicity gives oxygen to these kinds of acts, so restricting coverage will reduce copycats); the right to bear arms (guns don’t cause human evil, but of course they make it easier to carry out); and due process (targeting potential mass shooters, or mentally ill people in general, is possible, but requires us to curtail Americans’ civil rights before they have actually committed a crime).”

— A Los Angeles Times editorial. The editorial also notes, “There are only easy answers if you are willing to sacrifice rights you don’t care about, and that other people do. That’s never been a solution Americans could pursue without embarrassment and regret.”

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