In light of the tragedy in Newtown Connecticut, the national debate over gun control has been reignited. Recent polls show that a clear majority of Americans (57% or 54% depending on the poll) now favor some kind of gun control.
While we, as a nation, are appalled by the killing of 26 people, including 20 innocent, little children, what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School is just the “tip of the iceberg.” Consider the following statistics from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (http://blog.bradycampaign.org):
• Almost 100,000 people in America are shot or killed with a gun every year.
• Over 1 million people have been killed with guns since 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated.
• US homicide rates are 6.9 times higher than rates in 22 other populous high income countries combined!
From those statistics, it is clear that an epidemic of gun violence exists in this country. How can we address this problem?
First, persons with serious mental illnesses who are a danger to themselves or others must have readily available access to mental health treatment. Second, common sense gun control is absolutely essential.
In regard to gun control, it makes no sense to say that if someone wants to purchase a firearm from a licensed gun dealer there must be a background check on that prospective purchaser, but if that same prospective purchaser wants to buy a gun at a gun show or on the internet, there should be no background check whatsoever. The “gun show loophole” must be closed!
It also makes no sense to allow a civilian to purchase military style anti-personnel weapons (i.e. Uzis, AK-47’s etc.). Why does any law abiding hunter or sportsman need to own a “weapon of war?” Assault weapons should be banned. Along these same lines, large clip ammunition magazines should be banned. No civilian needs to own ammunition clips that contain 30 or more rounds of ammunition.
While these measures will not end all acts of violence in this country, they could play a significant role in reducing the level of gun violence that plagues our society.
Darryl Cherness is a member and past president of the Culver City Democratic Club.
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