What Are The Prospects For Sensible Gun Control?

The pathetic gun control debate has resurfaced in the aftermath of yet another mass murder involving youngsters in Parkland Florida. The list of attacks has grown so long it’s impossible to fathom the pain and suffering that overwhelms the survivors and communities that have been devastated by shooting sprees. Mass murder has become a disease, like the flu, that has overcome mentally unstable members of our society. The blame of the recent attack is being improperly dropped on the shoulders of the FBI and local law enforcement officials.

There are over 300 million Americas in the country. Any one of them could become a shooter in a moment of rage or depression. Think of it. An individual could snap if he or she loses a job, has a death in the family or is cheated on by a spouse. The availability of weapons makes the situation potentially deadly for family, co-workers and complete strangers.

The latest shooter is a troubled young man who telegraphed signals that he was a danger to society. And he was blatant about his feelings of loneliness, desperation and self-dread. All this drove him to hunt down innocent people who had nothing to do with his personal problems.

How many people are severely depressed in the country on any given day? Frankly it would be impossible for authorities to keep tabs on so many and anticipate every deadly tragedy.

Nevertheless all Americans must be diligent and look for signs that a neighbor or a relative might be on the verge of exploding. Officials did not do a good job responding to warnings about the shooter in Parkland, and he slaughtered innocent children.

Unbalanced individuals should not be allowed to possess weapons. Every American, including all members of the N.R.A., feels this way. But how can the authorities monitor so many potential problems? And what is the definition of the aforementioned unbalanced person?

We are all depressed at one time or another. How would you feel if a neighbor turned you in to the authorities because you had a loud argument with a family member? Overreaction to other people’s behavior would result in utter chaos. But you never know when a person is on the verge of a violent action.

The unbalanced person approach to gun possession is a slippery slope unless the individual has a history of violence, or greater still, has publicly expressed his or her desire to kill or harm others. Unfortunately the US would need a far larger force of officials to monitor all the tips received about these “potential” killers.

Another way to respond to increasing violence would be to deny certain Americans the right to own arms. Keep in mind that illegal gun ownership has not impacted the prevalence of weapons among gangs and organized crime, the greatest offenders.

Gun possession could be declared illegal in populated places such as urban centers. However any prohibition of gun ownership would likely be challenged constitutionally. The Second Amendment gives America no help in limiting ownership. It indicates that Americans have a right to own guns.

Nor does the amendment delineate what types of weapons could be banned. So it’s unclear about ownership of automatic and semi automatic weapons as well as high capacity bullet magazines. These items make it easier for a mass murders to increase headcount in an attack. Anti- gun advocates have often said there is no practical need for an automatic weapon. Its primary use is to kill other humans. The amendment does not say or imply that bazookas and hand grenades are illegal either. Yet society has established rules that forbid their use.

So what is the solution to the gun controversy? This questions pits gun advocates, who say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, against anti-gun advocates who say the prevalence of weapons makes violence more likely in the country.

Changing the Second Amendment at this time would seem an impossible dream especially if changes would limit or prohibit the ownership of guns by Americans. But, what about new legislation?

The N.R.A. is the strongest special interest group and lobby in the country. It completely dominates many of our elected officials, particularly in the heartland of the country. This means that politicians in the interior of the country would not favor any decrease in gun rights. Politicians on the coasts and in the largest urban areas do not have the votes to effect any legislation.

The only reasonable path moving forward is to enact common sense legislation to address fringe issues. It is possible that over time common sense could win the day. The most obvious areas of interest would be automatic weapons, large magazines, felons or any persons who have been treated for mental issues and schools (a likely targets of shooters in recent years).

The gun lobby will not accept any of these suggestions and crafting the legislation will be a nightmare. It will be a fight to the death, as it always has been. But, pressure on lawmakers is increasing on the heels of the dreadful executions of women and children.

On the other side of the coin is our current president who is sympathetic to the gun lobby.

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