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D.C. Must Enact Gun Control Now

A new poll of 602 adults shows that 54% back tougher gun control laws, with 52% supporting a ban on semiautomatic handguns and 59% favoring a ban on ammunition clips that hold more than 10 bullets.

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The ABC News/Washington Post survey was done Dec. 14 to Dec. 16. It was released today, 72 hours after the murder of 27 people, including 20 children, in Newtown, Connecticut, the second deadliest school massacre in U.S. history. The poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

The poll’s findings are similar to the findings in a CBS News/New York Times poll in January 2011, which found 63% of Americans back a nationwide ban on assault weapons, and two in three Americans support a ban on high-capacity magazines “or clips that can hold many rounds of ammunition,” the poll findings show.

Both assault weapons and high capacity clips were used in the Arizona shootings that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head.

Semiautomatic and high-capacity magazines were also used in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shootings last July, where a dozen Americans were killed and 58 were injured.

The CBS/Times poll also found 58% of gun-owning households back a nationwide ban of high-capacity magazines.

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Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson. Aurora. And now Newtown.

Pat answers don’t work anymore, such as "guns don't kill people, people kill people.” People with guns kill people, and one child killed is too many, period.

It is intolerable that the U.S. cannot protect its citizens and its children against a gun culture blinded by ideology and glorified by either Hollywood or music.  

The thinking that restricting guns or ammunition means the government will take away our guns is absurd, slippery slope thinking. In fact, it’s baloney. How about the slippery slope in the other direction—why not let Americans own shoulder rocket launchers or dirty bombs?

You don’t need high-powered rifles or assault weapons to hunt, despite what the gun absolutists argue. That’s just reveling in carnage.

The second amendment of the U.S. constitution was written at a time of muskets and bayonets, when England sought to keep the U.S. as a colony, not during a time of assault weapons, high-clip magazines and grenades, when the gun lobbyists think they can colonize D.C.

To downgrade this argument to a mental health debate, to think “we must discuss improving access and delivery of mental health care to those who need it,” as a fix to the gun control chaos, as an editorial writer said in The Wall Street Journal, is absurd.

It has been estimated that Americans own 270 million guns, the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world, quadruple the rate of industrialized countries, including Japan, Australia and all of Europe.

In 2011, there were 9,146 gun-related homicides, or three per 100,000, says the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. That’s about five times the rate of other developed countries, says the Washington Post. (for more, click here.)

I am someone who, yes, has endured crime. I refuse to use the word victim, I will not be defined by it. I have never talked about it, and never will. I do not want to live in a country where everyone has guns and where our children are massacred because our elected officials are afraid to take the moral stand and do what is just and right and good.

I’m asking for rational and common-sense thinking. I am for gun ownership, but with severe limitations.

West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin says the government is complicit in future deaths if meaningful gun restrictions are not enacted now.

“Anybody that’s a proud gun owner, anyone that’s a proud member of the NRA, they’re also proud parents, they’re proud grandparents,” Manchin has said. Gun owners, including NRA members, already support common sense proposals that D.C. has failed to enact.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has indicated she will reintroduce an assault weapons ban. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also noted that more than 700 mayors, from both political parties, have joined together to stop the flow of illegal guns into our neighborhoods.

Yes, it’s true the last gun control measure the U.S. saw was a ten-year freeze on semiautomatic assault weapons back in 1994. But that ban expired in 2004, and the gun culture has not seen major D.C. changes since 1986.     

Right now, guns are governed by a patchwork quilt of laws largely at the state level, where some states have a ten-day wait period to get a gun and others do not. A number of states have even recently softened their gun laws, letting people carry concealed weapons into restaurants, schools, churches and hospitals.

Many shootings are done by people legally owning guns. This laxness now makes it easier for anyone to get guns.

An estimated 40% of guns are sold by unlicensed dealers, at places like gun shows, where they are not required to go through federal background checks. Those background checks are already narrow in scope.

Gun sellers call in a check to the FBI or to other agencies to make sure gun buyers do not have a criminal record or are not otherwise ineligible to make a gun purchase. That includes felons, those ascertained to be mentally “defective,” drug users, illegal immigrants and gun buyers convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors.

More than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials, the FBI says.

However, government agencies do not share information about potential gun buyers, and legislation supporting that effort has stalled.

For example, it’s been reported that the federal government doesn’t require, say, the Social Security Administration to tell the FBI whether Social Security had to re-route a Social Security check to a trustee for a person designated mentally incompetent, or when federal workers or job applicants fail drug tests.

Already, computer technology is not as swift as many might think, meaning, not all gun sellers can rapidly download the most up-to-date information on gun buyers.  

Here’s what must be done:

Again, Hollywood and the music industry must stop glorifying gun violence, including in gory films and music.

Anyone who wants a gun must go through state training and a certification process over a number of months, if not a year, similar to what police officers go through. That process would include a deep-dive background check. All gun sales or exchanges must be registered with states and towns.

Shooting ranges must ID customers and conduct background checks, too. If bars must ID customers, so should shooting ranges. I am against allowing children and even adults under the age of 30, yes, 30, at target ranges.

It’s not just that Washington must start a meaningful debate about the nation’s gun laws. That’s not enough.
D.C. must enact gun control. Now.