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July 26, 2012

Column #1,613

Tougher Gun Laws Are Needed

By Mike McManus

            The day after the Aurora massacre - 12 people killed and 58 wounded - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said “It’s time the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country.”    

Five days later, the mayor wrote a column in the New York Daily News charging, “The two candidates are back to politics as usual, attacking each other on gaffes and trivialities. If not now, when is it the time for them to outline their solutions to gun violence?

            “After the massing shooting in Tucson last year, we heard, `Now is not the time.’ We heard the same refrain after shooting sprees at Virginia Tech and Columbine. It’s as if we can’t mourn the dead and protect the living at the same time.”

            Bloomberg is right.  What makes matters worse is that both Obama and Romney have taken tough stands in the past, but are now ducking the issue.

            In fact, as governor, Romney signed a ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 assault rifle that James Holmes allegedly used to slaughter movie-goers. At the time, Romney said, “Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts. These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense. They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.”

            But what did he say after Aurora?  “With emotions so high right now, this is really not a time to be talking about the politics associated with what happened in Aurora.  I still believe the Second Amendment is the right course to preserve and defend and don’t believe that new laws are going to make a difference in this type of tragedy.”

            Nonsense.  If the Brady law prohibiting the sale of assault weapons had not expired in 2004 after a decade, Holmes would not have been able to buy the AR-15 that quickly shot 100 rounds.  People would be alive today who died needlessly.

During his 2008 race for the White House, Sen. Obama said, he favored a law “making the expired federal assault weapons ban permanent.”  Shortly after taking office Attorney General Eric Holder reminded an audience of Obama’s campaign statement.  But three weeks later, when asked about it, Holder said, “I think we’re going to do is try to enforce the laws that we have on the books.”

During the campaign Obama also said “I am not in favor of concealed weapons.  I think that creates a potential atmosphere where more innocent people could (get shot during) altercations.”

However, he has signed a law allowing loaded, concealed guns in national parks.

Similarly, he called for “much tougher background check system, one that’s more effective and make sure there aren’t loopholes out there like the gun show loophole” which allow guns sales without any background check.

However, in response to a press inquiry about the gun show loophole, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in April, 2009, “I think the President believes that we can have a greater outcome in the short term working to enforce the laws that are on our books.”

Problem is, there are virtually no laws on those books.  As Sec. of State Hilary Clinton said on March 25, 2009, assault weapons “don’t belong on anyone’s street.”

What’s the problem?  A 2010 Gallup poll reports that support for more gun restrictions fell 34% over 20 years, while support for fewer restrictions or the status quo grew by nearly the same amount. When there’s another massacre, more people buy guns. From Friday to Sunday, Colorado conducted 2,887 background checks for purchases, up 43% in a week. 

However, buying guns actually increases the likelihood of gun deaths.

States with the weakest gun laws (Texas, Ohio and Wisconsin) – export nine times more guns used in crimes than states like California, New Jersey and Hawaii with the toughest laws.

There have been 60 mass shootings since the 2011 Tucson slaughter.  They don’t make headlines such as five people shot at a soccer tournament in Dover, Del., three of whom died.

In one year, 31,593 died of gunshot wounds and 66,769 survived being shot. Most of those deaths (18,223) were suicides! More than one million people have been killed with guns in America since Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated in 1968.

U.S. firearm homicide rates are 19.5 times higher than in 22 other populous high income countries.  In fact, 80% of all gun deaths in all those countries were in America.

It is time to pass laws to save lives. Does any Presidential candidate agree?

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