June 22, 2018
The Need For Stronger Gun Laws
By Mike McManus
When I was
about 10 my father asked me to get him a pair of socks. In his sock
drawer, I saw Dad's pistol. I took it out of its holster, and opened the
magazine to see if there were any bullets there, as Dad had trained me
Seeing none, I aimed the pistol at my head and thought about pulling the
trigger. Then I thought, "No, that's silly." I turned the pistol toward
his drawer and pulled the trigger.
BLAM! The bullet, which would have killed me, smashed through his sock
drawer instead. It had been in the chamber which I could not see. I was
punished, of course, but at least was alive!
I tell this frightening story because 25 children are killed by guns
weekly in America. Between 2012 and 2014, an average of 1,297 children
under age 18 died from firearms. Guns are the third leading cause of
These are needless deaths. Loaded guns should not be kept in areas where
they can be found by children. Coincidentally, Wednesday was ASK Day
(Asking Saves Kids) to ask parents and caregivers if there are any
unlocked guns in the homes where children visit and play.
My father should have been asked!
In fact, 1.7 million kids live in homes with unsecured guns, and 80% of
unintentional firearm deaths involving children under 15 occur at home.
Doctors need to ASK their patients! Recently a federal appeals court
struck down an NRA-backed Florida law that restricted doctors from
talking to their patients about the risk of guns.
That victory came thanks to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
which is named after Jim and Sarah Brady. He was Ronald Reagan's press
secretary when both the President and Brady were shot in 1981. Brady was
shot in the head, almost died and was paralyzed for life.
The result was Jim and his wife Sarah dedicated their lives to
preventing gun violence. They worked tirelessly to pass laws to ensure
that handguns would not be sold to dangerous people. The Brady Handgun
Violence Prevention Act became law in 1994, which prohibited sales to
felons, domestic abusers, and people with mental illnesses so severe
they are a danger, and those discharged from Armed Services
The Brady Law has blocked the sales to 3+ million people, and is a major
reason the number of murders dropped from 22,000 in 1995 to 14,200 in
However, 22% of guns sold in America are purchased without a Brady
background check - mainly at gun shows, and by mail order. These
loopholes must be closed - a goal supported by 90% of Americans and even
80% of gun owners. Loopholes allowed a shooter to kill 20 children and 6
adults in Sandy Hook, Conn. President Obama tried to strengthen the
Brady Law, but was unable to do so.
Seven states have expanded their background checks - New York,
Washington, California, Colorado, Delaware, Oregon, Nevada plus
Washington DC. They had impressive results: 53% fewer law enforcement
officers were shot and killed and 47% fewer women by intimate partners.
In fact, 10 years after the Virginia Tech massacre of 32 students,
Congress is rolling back some Brady protections. One law ended a
requirement to block gun sales to Social Security recipients who are
unable to work due to mental illness, or unable to manage their
financial affairs due to illness. About 90% of individuals who die by
suicide experience mental illness.
Why is Congress and Trump making it easier for those people to kill
A similar bill would prevent the Veterans Administration reporting
at-risk veterans for background checks. Why, when "on this day when we
have this debate, 20 brave men and women who have worn the uniform will
take their lives in suicide," Rep. Elizabeth Esty asked. She represents
Newtown, Conn. where Sandy Hook occurred.
By contrast, Connecticut passed a law which allows law enforcement to
remove firearms from a person who the court has probable cause to
believe poses a risk of imminent danger to themselves or others. A study
of the law estimated that from 1999 to 2013 that it may have prevented
On the other hand, after Republican Members of Congress were targeted by
a left-wing zealot last week, they introduced legislation allowing
Members of Congress to carry firearms anywhere in America. It is
co-sponsored by 21 lawmakers, three of whom were at the targeted
baseball practice. "We were sitting ducks," said one.
I agree with that proposal, though I support Brady restrictions for
people who are a danger to themselves or others.
Copyright (c) 2017 Michael J. McManus,
President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For previous
columns go to
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