Lately guns have been on everyone’s minds. Approximately 7 weeks ago Adam Lanza shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children and 6 adults after first killing his own mother and ending with him killing himself. The nation froze at the tragedy — I remember being on a lunch break at work and reading a news article of the piece and really couldn’t believe what I was reading; it was just too shocking to be true.

Since the shooting at Sandy Hook, 1,280 people have been either murdered or accidentally killed by guns in the United States. Slate’s count was 1,475 including suicide and police shootings. It’s crazy how a centerpiece of American freedom, an item that without which we would still be British subjugates, can suddenly be on the low side of American opinion.

With all the media attention on the damage that guns are doing to innocent people, state and federal legislatures have been debating what needs to be done to reduce the number of killings with firearms.

If you are part of the camp that says, “You can’t eliminate firearm deaths by regulating firearms, so we shouldn’t make any regulations at all,” you might as well leave now,  because nothing more I have to say on the topic will appeal to you; mainly because you’re wrong.

There’s a large group that says, “We don’t need to regulate guns, we need to improve mental health.” I agree completely that mental health needs improvement. If the legislatures that were making that claim actually believed it, they would be putting mental health bills up for debate — however, to improve mental health they’d have to undo all the stuff they’ve worked so hard to get rid of for the last 20 years. They don’t want gun regulation, but they don’t want to seem callus — but they don’t actually believe what they say.

Ok, so I’ve trashed the other side: What do I think?

I believe we should have the ability to enforce the regulations already on the books. The NRA has been able to use their congressional members to push limitations on the ability to enforce gun related regulations that have already been passed — an example of which is the damage the patriot bill did the ATF — look it up, you’ll be amazed. And the clauses in there to limit them were written by the NRA directly.

I don’t believe that guns should be regulated extra hard because different pieces of plastic make them look scarier. Pistol grips on a rifle don’t matter to me. What I care about is the things that allow would be murderers to do as much damage as quickly as possible. I can’t understand why anyone would need 15 rounds or more to protect their house or to hunt. If your aim is that bad that you need to rapid fire to hit the target, you shouldn’t have a gun in the first place — a firing range for target practice is the only place you should be holding a gun.

I also think that background checks and registration of firearms are reasonable. The background checks don’t need to include every detail of the buyer’s life — just whether or not it is legal for them to own firearms. I also believe the government should have a reasonable idea of what firearms are located where and registration is the way to do that. It can protect legal gun owners from being in trouble if their former weapons are used in a crime (see my next point), if they publicly acknowledge that they no longer own that weapon. We have to register our cars annually and that has already been deemed non-intrusive, so I don’t see why a 1-time registration of a firearm is so much more intrusive.

The argument I hear from the conservative side is that all the regulations only affect law abiding, responsible gun owners. That’s why, to protect responsible gun owner’s, I suggest that if your weapon is used to commit a crime, you are in part responsible for that crime and should be criminally charged with something to the affect “failing to maintain responsible possession of a firearm” with increments depending on the affects the firearm had directly on any victims. The fact is, the legally owned guns belonging to responsible gun owners do not get used in shootings; but too often someone else’s gun is getting used to kill innocent people.

For example Christmas Day last year, 2-year old Sincere Smith killed himself while playing with his dad’s new .38 pistol. It is true, that the dad was charged with involuntary manslaughter in this instance, but surprisingly enough, it doesn’t always happen that way. For example 4 of the guns used by the shooters in the 1999 Columbine shooting were obtained from friends — did the friends or friends’ parents ever get charged? No.

The question comes about stolen weapons. Responsible gun owners know and report when their firearms are stolen. They keep them locked up and away from children. They don’t allow mentally incompetent or unstable use their guns. A gun reported stolen would obviously not result in the owner being charged, because they showed responsibility. If the evidence suggests that whatever crime a gun was used in was stolen before the gun owner could have noticed, they wouldn’t be charged either — the goal is not to be unfair, but to encourage gun owners to know where their guns are and make good choices about who has access to them; not to punish for being an owner.

NRA VP, Wayne Lapierre stated after the Sandy Hook shooting that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. This argument has been proven wrong twice already. January 10th, a school shooter at Taft Union High School was talked down by a teacher and security guard to handing over his weapon. January 31st, a school shooter at Price Middle School had his weapon taken away by a liaison officer after shooting 1 student before he could continue. Some have pointed out that the officer was a good guy with a gun; however, the officer never un-holstered his gun — the gun didn’t stop the shooting. Even though it keeps getting reported that it was an armed guard that stopped it.

So where does that leave me? I am totally in favor of responsible gun ownership. I enjoy the rare occasion that I get to go to a shooting range, and would really like to own a gun — the only reason I don’t now is that I can’t afford one. I support the measures that Obama has put through executive order and generally support many of the measures being debated in Congress. Obama doesn’t want to take our guns away or make it illegal to buy or own a gun as some media experts choose to report; he wants to have the power to enforce the ones already in place.

What’s your opinions? Post it in the comments or a link to your own blog post about the topic!

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