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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,884
October 5, 2017
After Las Vegas: Gun Control?
By Mike McManus

Rep. John Lewis, stood on the Capital steps Wednesday, asserting, "The Congress has failed the American people. As in Newtown and Aurora and Charleston and Orlando, now in Las Vegas, how many more must die? A hundred? A thousand? 10,000? A million?

"What is your blood price? How many more must die?" Lewis asked. "But there's no number, is there? There's no amount of blood or pain or death or suffering that would move this Congress to act."

He's right. Congress holds moments of silence, but as he said, "It's all a show, a placeholder until people forget."

Lewis recalled that Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed by gun violence, as was Sen. Robert Kennedy, and his brother, President John Kennedy. Two members of Congress were seriously wounded in mass shootings - former Rep. Gabby Giffords and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

Rep. Giffords came to the Capitol with her husband, Mark Kelly, the former astronaut, to plea for Congress to pass gun control laws. Kelly said he and his wife are "heartbroken" and angry about the killing of 58 people in Las Vegas and the wounding of more than 500 others. It was the worst slaughter by one man in American history.

That's why Kelly said the "thoughts and prayers" being offered at the White House and by Members of Congress "are not enough."

"Your thoughts and prayers aren't going to stop the next shooting," Kelly asserted. "Only actions and leadership will do that."

Kelly and his wife founded the gun-control organization Americans for Responsible Solutions. He acknowledged that their past pleas have yielded little. However, he noted Congress was "going in the wrong direction." He pointed to a bill the House was considering this week that would allow gun silencers to be made more widely available.

Hillary Clinton asserted, "The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get."

In one year, 33,880 Americans were killed by guns. That included 11,564 who were murdered and a stunning 21,037 who committed suicide! Another 81,114 people survived gun injuries.

Such massive numbers are hard to absorb. Consider this: every day, 46 children and teens are shot in murders, suicides and by accident. And seven children die daily.

Can laws make a difference? Yes! In 1993 Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act named after Jim Brady, the press secretary of Ronald Reagan. Brady was shot in the head when the President was shot and nearly killed. Brady survived, but was paralyzed from the waist down.

The Brady Bill required background checks of all handgun purchases of federal licensed firearm dealers. It blocked the sale of guns to two million people considered too risky due to their criminal records or mental instability. That law undoubtedly saved thousands of lives. Unfortunately, Congress let it expire in 2004, and it's not been reinstated.

It should be reconsidered by Congress, and should include all gun sales, not just those by federally licensed dealers. About 22% of guns are bought at gun shows which have never required background checks - except in nine states such as California and New York, which require universal background checks. Also, guns can be bought on line.

Secondly, a new federal law should prohibit sales of killer rifles like the AR-15 and an attachment that can be bought on line called a "Bump Stock" that enables the rifle to fire 90 rounds in 10 seconds. Stephen Paddock had such a device on 12 of the 19 guns he used to murder people in Las Vegas. That's how he was able to kill and wound so many in 11 minutes.

Third, a federal law should ban the manufacture and sale of gun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds. Such guns have no other purpose than to kill as many people as possible.

Congress must act. As Gabby Gifford said outside of the Capitol this week, "The nation's counting on you."

Finally, action must be taken by 100 million Americans with guns in their homes to reduce deaths. First nearly 1.7 million children live in a home with an unlocked, loaded gun. I nearly killed myself at age 10 with my father's loaded gun.

Second, every day 58 Americans commit suicide with a gun - including two children daily. How can 21,000 suicides a year be prevented?

My answer is do not have a gun in your home. A depressed person in your family is less likely to commit suicide if your home has no deadly weapon.

Let's stop the carnage!

Copyright (c) 2017 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. For previous columns go to Hit Search for any topic.

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