Why We Can’t Solve the Gun Problem

By: Larry Pifer

On February 14 the shooting of at least 23 people in Kansas City abruptly halted the celebration of the Super Bowl win by the Kansas City Chiefs.  At least one person is dead.  At least half of the victims were under the age of 16 (one only 6).  The state of Missouri has some of the most permissive gun safety laws in the country. There are no background checks required, no permit to carry a concealed gun, no restrictions on gun ownership by violent offenders, no requirement to lock up firearms, and no restrictions on assault weapons.  Two juveniles are charged for this slaughter.

The United States has more guns than people. We have mass shootings on a weekly basis. Our laws regulating gun sales, ownership and use are some of the most lax in the world. The United States has a gun homicide rate twenty-six times that of other high-income countries. The second leading cause of death for children under 18 years-old is gun homicide (second only to automobile deaths). This is our shameful problem.

Most everyone wants to fix it. Polls show that as many as ninety-seven percent of us support a universal criminal background check on all gun purchases. Much of the senseless killing and mass shooting is by assault style weapons developed for use in war.  The Second Amendment to the Constitution grants us the right to bear arms, but not for the unconstrained use of weapons of war to murder our fellow citizens and children.  A large majority of us want to ban these weapons.

So, what prevents us from altering what we have done to ourselves? Why can’t we do better in saving our children from gun violence? Is the latest tragedy in Kansas City a possible turning point in this terrible tale? Could the gun protectors suddenly perceive an ECONOMIC impact if families cannot safely attend large gatherings and so they think twice about attending sporting events, the Easter parade or other American celebrations? 

Gun protectors seem unmoved by school, church, or grocery store shootings, but perhaps families and individuals who value their safety above their support for guns might shy away from attending large events, costing event-organizers real money. People might be less willing to spend large sums to attend a football game with their family if they fear that others with concealed weapons might also attend.  

I truly believe that the issue lies with one party of law makers and politicians who have made their pact with the National Rifle Association. The elected members in one party in both the Senate and the House have consistently fought against laws that would help solve this problem. They oppose universal background checks, a ban on assault style weapons, and red flag laws that identify people who should not have guns. They have successfully subverted what the citizens in the United States want.

I believe that the law makers in one party have done this as a political weapon and message. I think they believe they must run on this stance for political gain. What a horrible, horrible thing to do. But until this stance changes, or such lawmakers are defeated, this is what we citizens, the next victims, must live with. And the framers of our Constitution did not intend for us to arm ourselves with weapons of war to defend ourselves at a celebratory parade.

I appeal to all of you, for the sake of our children, our fellow citizens, and ourselves -- do not vote for any candidate who opposes an assault weapons ban, red flag laws, or universal background checks on gun sales and ownership.  

        Our future and our lives depend on it.

Larry Pifer lives in Easton and is a member of the Talbot Democratic Forum





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