Overall, I’m sure Dear Reader’s Op Ed regarding gun reforms is sure to make Sarah Brady cry, but I have some bits to pick here.
But one clear and terrible fact remains. A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun.
I, for one, am quite relieved that an Army recruiter and a college administration does not have the power to eliminate my rights. That takes a court of law and the testimony of experts. My rights should not be subject to another person’s fears.
He used it to murder six people and wound 13 others. And if not for the heroism of bystanders and a brilliant surgical team, it would have been far worse.
I’d just like to point out that one of those bystanders was a conceal carry permit holder and was also carrying a gun that day.
But since that day, we have lost perhaps another 2,000 members of our American family to gun violence. Thousands more have been wounded. We lose the same number of young people to guns every day and a half as we did at Columbine, and every four days as we did at Virginia Tech.
Reference please? Where does this number come from? And if you’re talking about criminals shooting each other, I’m not losing a lot of sleep over that.
Now, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. And the courts have settled that as the law of the land. In this country, we have a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s handed from generation to generation. Hunting and shooting are part of our national heritage.
And by closing the ever demonized ‘gun-show loophole,’ you will now require a background check to pass that heritage from generation to generation. It’s a real special moment when Grandpa drives you down to the local FFL so you can pay for a NICS check before he passes on his bolt action.
And, in fact, my administration has not curtailed the rights of gun owners – it has expanded them, including allowing people to carry their guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.
Removing onerous, unconstitutional regulations is not expanding rights. And you have your predecessor to thank for that one anyway. But nice to see you taking ownership of something you inherited with the office.
The fact is, almost all gun owners in America are highly responsible. They’re our friends and neighbors. They buy their guns legally and use them safely, whether for hunting or target shooting, collection or protection. And that’s something that gun-safety advocates need to accept. Likewise, advocates for gun owners should accept the awful reality that gun violence affects Americans everywhere, whether on the streets of Chicago or at a supermarket in Tucson.
Mr. President, I assure that gun owners and their advocates have accepted quite fully the awful reality of
gun violence. That’s why many of us have made the choice to obtain the tools and the training to defend ourselves against those that would wish to visit violence upon us. Even after the events of that terrible day in Tucson, I would rather be in a supermarket there than the streets of your adopted hometown. Tuscon recognizes my Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Your adopted hometown does not.
I know that every time we try to talk about guns, it can reinforce stark divides. People shout at one another, which makes it impossible to listen. We mire ourselves in stalemate, which makes it impossible to get to where we need to go as a country.
However, I believe that if common sense prevails, we can get beyond wedge issues and stale political debates to find a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place.
I’m willing to bet that responsible, law-abiding gun owners agree that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few – dangerous criminals and fugitives, for example – from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.
How about, we try keeping the violent criminals behind bars? That seems like common sense to me. Or maybe we could train our public school children in armed defense. After all, dead offenders can’t become repeat offenders.
Porous background checks are bad for police officers, for law-abiding citizens and for the sellers themselves. If we’re serious about keeping guns away from someone who’s made up his mind to kill, then we can’t allow a situation where a responsible seller denies him a weapon at one store, but he effortlessly buys the same gun someplace else.
Unless, of course, the ATF is telling you to sell the gun anyway so they can take it into Mexico. Or maybe you are going to require the street dealer with his stock of stolen guns to run NICS on his customers? And no one would ever lie on the form about their drug use in order to purchase a gun and do something like, oh I don’t know, shoot a Congresswoman.
But I have more faith in the American people than that. Most gun-control advocates know that most gun owners are responsible citizens. Most gun owners know that the word “commonsense” isn’t a code word for “confiscation.” And none of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television.
I sincerely hope that the next rampage never happens, but if it does, I want to see the news story about the law-abiding civilian that saved lives with their tools and training before police could arrive on the scene. Even one death by gun violence is tragic, but it is preferable to 32.
Mr. President, I am happy to have a conversation about crime and violence. The starting place has nothing to do with the infringement of my rights.