Gun Control and the NRA

20 Mar

As many of you know, we are once again having a discussion on how to deal with gun violence in this country.  Last year there were several mass shootings in this country ending with a mass shooting at an elementary school.  The most horrifying part of the Sandy Hook elementary shooting was that most of the victims were no older than seven years old.  The shooting was even shocking enough to make some of the most adamant supporters of guns change their views on the issue.

I am concerned about gun violence, and not just the mass shootings that we have had in the last year.  The mass shootings last year were horrific, but they are hardly isolated incidents.  I’m from a southern suburb of Chicago.  I live in a safe neighborhood, but there are areas around me that have seen crime rates rise in recent years.  I don’t remember the last time the local news didn’t start with the first story being about a murder in the Chicago area.  What I don’t understand is, why is this accepted in our society?  According to the New York Daily News, there were 500 murders last year in the city of Chicago (as published several days before 2012 ended).  That’s around 10 times the amount of all of the mass shootings last year combined happening every year.

Almost everyone in this country realizes that there is a problem with gun violence, but we can’t agree on how to solve the problem.  I somewhat agree with the phrase, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  That doesn’t mean we should make it as easy as possible for criminals and other dangerous people to have guns.  As it stands right now background checks are limited, and you can buy a 100 round magazine with no problem.   We also have a weakened Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms which is responsible for monitoring illegal weapons.  They don’t even have a permanent head of the ATF, only someone who is part time.

I don’t think there is any one thing we can do that will solve all of the problems, but I believe there are things we can do which would help stop some of the gun violence.  The first thing that can be done is for the senate to vote for a permanent head of the ATF.  I understand the ATF has made mistakes in the past, but that’s no excuse to leave the ATF without someone permanently running it.  We also need to expand background checks to cover every transaction of any weapon.

There has been a lot of talk about the “gun show loophole” lately.  Anyone who goes to a gun show can buy a weapon without a background check.  Why is this significant?  According to a CNN article titled, “Universal Background Check: What Does it mean?” 40% of all guns purchased are through private sales; no background check is required.  That means that 40% of all weapon sales are done so without regard to who it is being sold to.  This isn’t about law abiding citizens owning a gun anymore.

The New York Times has an interesting article called, “In Some States, Gun Rights Trump Order of Protection.”  It outlines that there are some states that don’t require an abusive person to relinquish their weapons with orders of protection.  Spousal abuse is obviously a serious problem, and there is no reason why the abusive person should be allowed to keep their weapons.  The article also points out that the NRA has fought hard against any law that requires the abuser to relinquish their weapon or weapons.  I’m not suggesting the NRA supports abuse, but they are supporting a gun owner’s right over that of the abuse victim.

The issue of gun control has also made its way to the congressional race in my home district.  There recently was a primary in Illinois’ 2nd congressional district.  In the Democratic primary, there were essentially 3 front-runners; state senator Toi Hutchinson, former IL representative Robin Kelly, and former congresswoman Debbie Halvorson.  Both Hutchinson and Halvorson had high rankings by the NRA in the past while Robin Kelly ran on the issue of gun control.  New York mayor Michael Bloomberg had has his super pac run ads attacking Debbie Halvorson and Toi Hutchinson’s high ratings from the NRA.  Toi Hutchinson eventually dropped out and endorsed Robin Kelly.  I supported Robin Kelly partly because of the issue of gun violence.  Robin Kelly won the primary easily and is the favorite to win in the general election next month.

We are seeing gun violence all around the country, and not just in large cities.  The only thing everyone agrees on is that we need to do something to stop this violence.  I am optimistic that we can get something done (mainly background checks).  Despite what some people think there has been no discussion to take all of the guns away from the whole country.  That is an overblown, paranoid fear that the NRA is perpetuating.  The gun control legislation that has been proposed would not affect law abiding citizens.  I hope we can come together as a country and get something done to address the issue of gun violence.

The links to the articles I cited are

CNN: ‘Universal background check:’ What does it mean?

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/14/us/universal-background-checks

 

New York Times: “In some states, gun rights trump orders of protection.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/us/facing-protective-orders-and-allowed-to-keep-guns.html?hp&_r=1&

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