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September 19, 2013
Column #1,673
Time for Congress To Enact Gun Law
By Mike McManus

WASHINGTON – Conventional wisdom is that gun control is dead, despite the slaughter of 12 people within blocks of the U.S. Capitol. “Gun Control, RIP,” headlined a column by Washington Post’s Dana Milbank.

He noted that in both the Senate and House there was a request for a “moment of silence,” which was quickly followed by traditional partisan speeches. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) made it known he would not try to revive the bill he co-sponsored to keep guns away from the mentally unstable.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, Democratic Whip, referred to the recall of two Colorado State Senators who led a battle to enact gun control legislation, and were yanked from public office as punishment, saying that “does not bode well for asking people to vote for legislation similar to that which went down in the Senate just a few months ago.”

John Morse, one of those state senators, told MSNBC, “The price we paid was so small in comparison with what the families of the 12 victims will pay. The law was passed and if we can prevent this kind of tragedy, we had a duty to do so.”

Angela Giron, the other ousted senator, asserted “The man who gunned down those people would not have passed a background check if he had purchased a weapon. A universal background check has the support of 95 percent of the public. There is also broad support for limiting magazine size.”

She is nearly correct. Between 86 and 91 percent of the public favor a universal background check, which can now be avoided if buyers go to gun shows, where 40 percent of all gun purchases are made.

Even three out of four NRA members favor universal background checks.

Since the Brady Law was passed, about 2 million attempts to purchase firearms have been blocked due to a background check. About half of those were felons.

“Americans overwhelmingly support background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, “ asserts Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York. “Now it’s time for Congress to stand with their constituents to pass a law requiring background checks for all gun sales.”

More than 100,000 Americans are shot annually - resulting in 11,583 murders, 18,783 suicides, 584 accidental deaths, and 71,386 are injured, including 3,627 who survive a suicide attempt.

By comparison, there were only 44 gun murders last year in Great Britain. It has 61.3 million people, a fifth of the U.S. population. If the U.S. had the same proportion of gun murders, there’d be only 220 - not 11,583.

America‘s carnage can be reduced. Universal background checks is the first step.

A second step would be to have a much more comprehensive reporting of those with mental illness. Only a month before killing 12 people at the Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis called the police in Rhode Island to complain that he had changed hotels three times because he was being pursued by people keeping him awake at night by sending vibrations through walls.

When officers arrived on August 7, Alexis said a person he had argued with at an airport in Virginia, “sent three people” to follow him. They were harassing him with a microwave. He told police he was a Navy contractor and had twice sought treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department for psychiatric issues.

Yet he was later able to buy a shotgun, enter a military base with it and slaughter people.

Many more mentally disturbed people obtain guns to commit suicide, 18,783 last year.

Piers Morgan interviewed Pastor Rick Warren about his recent loss of a son, Matthew, to suicide. He had signs of mental illness from his youth and had twice attempted suicide with a drug overdose. However, a month before his death, Matthew acquired a gun illegally over the Internet.

“If love could have kept my child alive, he would be alive today,” lamented Warren. “He was not ostracized. He wanted the pain to stop. He was not afraid to die, but was afraid of the pain.”

Matthew asked his Dad, “Why can’t I die? I know I am going to heaven.”

His father replied, “There is a purpose in our pain. I am not willing to give you up.”

Warren said, “He would have been a great advocate for children. He was able to walk into a room, and know who was in the most pain in that room. He spent time with that person, cheering them up. He actually helped a lot of people.

“It is the world’s loss that he is not here.”

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