By The Bakersfield Californian
A week has passed since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. -- one of the most tragic massacres of my lifetime. Unsurprisingly, hours after the details of the murders started to trickle out into the media, gun advocates frantically starting stating their cases. Don't you love how pro-gun enthusiasts love to make reference to the forefathers and the Second Amendment in an argument? They're quoting the same forefathers who thought slavery was OK, women were second-class citizens, and the two-party system was a good idea. How'd those philosophies work out for them? But I digress. From CNN to Fox News to my Facebook news feed, the blogosphere was ablaze. However, a statement from the NRA? Nothing for five days (and even then, it was just the promise of another statement). Statements from the 31 pro-gun U.S. senators? Few. How about Ted Nugent? Nada.
Listening to gun lovers state their case is always intriguing to me because their argument is always heavily skewed to one side without compromise. I call this condition "exclusivitis." This deficiency occurs when the arguing party feels that no changes should be made to current policy if it doesn't solve the problem in its entirety. Mutual exclusivity begats mental blocks begats gridlock. For example, most conservative politicians claim that we can't raise taxes on the top 2 percent because a balanced budget is achieved through spending cuts. Raising taxes on the wealthy, they say, will crash the economy and only fund the government for eight days! Nonsense. Or this: We can't pass immigration reform because the only solution to our problem is closing our borders. Let them self-deport and let's build that electric fence, they say. Garbage. Now, the newest conundrum is how we can't take away assault weapons because it won't stop mentally ill "nut cases."
I hate to break it to these people, but in all cases, multiple actions need to be taken to achieve maximum capacity. In order to balance the budget, we need additional revenue and spending cuts. In the case of immigration reform, we need to close the borders and enact comprehensive immigration reform. And in the case of gun violence, we need help for the mentally ill and a ban on assault weapons. If the following changes had been enacted prior to the Newtown tragedy, many of the victims at Sandy Hook would be alive today:
* Currently, only 60 percent of new gun purchasers go through a background check. That figure should be 100 percent.
* Gun shows enjoy legal loopholes that allow people to purchase guns without a background check and/or through a private owner. That loophole should be closed.
* Only active members of the military and police officers should be able to own assault weapons. Period.
* Convicted felons and the mentally ill should never be allowed to purchase a firearm of any type.
* If the shooter had access only to basic single-shot firearms and no assault weapon, apprehending him would have been easier and more people would be alive today.
* And, in my personal opinion, if the shooter's mother had a son that had a diagnosed mental illness, she shouldn't have access to purchase and store artillery in the same home. Common sense.
Let me be clear. I am not an anti-gun American. I'm a common-sense American. You want to buy guns for safety or as a hobby? I can respect that. Do you have the God-given right to do so? Perhaps. But hunters don't need AR-15s to shoot Bambi. It's time to re-enact the federal assault weapons ban. That's the 10-year ban passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994. It was allowed to expire on Sept. 13, 2004. Politicians keep attempting to renew the law but no bill has reached the floor for a vote. Ask the NRA and the gun lobby why that keeps happening.
Danny Morrison, born and raised in Bakersfield, is a local radio personality and a sales representative in the building industry.