So, what the HE double hockey sticks is going on here? America is the shining beacon of the West; how could this happen in this great land? How can one NOT feel safe in this country? Let me step onto my soapbox.
I concur that the two most common denominators, as pointed out by Mr. Hemenway (Prof of Health Policy), are an abundance of the availability of weapons and weak gun laws. I encourage you to read Mr. Hemenway’s article here: Off the Cuff: What don’t we know about the causes of gun violence? Almost everything.
First, let’s tackle the availability of guns. I am a supporter of the second amendment.
- With that being said however I do not believe the common citizen needs assault style weapons. Is the answer to ban and take away assault style weapons, no, it’s impossible to take them away from current owners. My personal opinion is that assault style weapons should not be sold.
- There is an article, Assault Weapons and High Capacity Magazines, sponsored by Everytown Research, which is very interesting. They make a very compelling case for the banning of high capacity magazines (magazines which hold >10 rounds). One of my weapons has a high capacity magazine, specifically a 15-round magazine; which is common for hand guns. Mr. Hemenway used the example of Virginia, the Old Dominion to drive his point home. From 1994 – 2004 there was an Assault Weapon Ban in Virginia. During this time, crimes committed with high capacity magazines were down to an all time low of 10% in 2004. After the ban expired, the crime rate with high capacity magazines had increased to nearly 22%. I found that very interesting. I do believe high capacity magazines which hold more than 15 rounds should no longer be sold.
- Removing Assault style weapons will not stop mass shootings, not by itself. There are other factors involved (too many for today’s discussion, but I think prohibiting the future sale of assault style guns and high capacity magazines will have a positive impact.
Before going into the second, and I believe the more important of the two, I’d like to do a small refresher on the history of our nation’s gun laws, courtesy of the Gifford’s Law Center.
- The National Firearms Act (NFA – 1934). Passed as part of the Internal Revenue Code (loosely called the IRS), a set of standards on the manufacture and transfer of firearms. Currently the NFA imposes an excise tax and provides registration requirements.
- The Federal Firearms Act (FFA – 1938). Created the Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) process and the requirements for them to maintain customer records and prohibited the transfer of arms to certain classes of persons (think felons). The act was repealed in 1968, but many provisions remain.
- The Gun Control Act (BDA – 1968). Revised the NFA and repealed the FFA, while keeping many of it’s provisions. Required all firearms be affixed with a serial number, and expanded the people prohibited from owning firearms. It also impacted ammunition, introduced background checks, provided dealer regulations, and expanded those prohibited to purchase firearms.
- The Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA – 1986). This act “liberalized” many of the restriction’s sellers had. The act limited the number of inspections the ATF could perform without a search warrant. Prevented the federal government from maintaining a central database of firearms dealer records.
- The Brady Act (Brady Act – 1993). Imposed a 5-day waiting period to allow law enforcement to review a prospective handgun purchaser’s background information. The act incorporated shotguns and rifles in 1998.
- The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB – 1994). Prohibited the manufacture, transfer, and possession of semi-automatic assault weapons. This act also prohibited the transfer and possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices (magazines > 10 rounds). This act banned 19 types of weapons, and any semi-automatic firearm with at least two specified military features coupled with the ability to accept a detachable magazine. This act expired on September 13th, 2004.
- The Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act And Child Safety Lock Act (PLCAA/CSLA – 2005). Provided the gun industry with immunity from most tort liability. Mandated that the transfer of any firearm had to be accompanied by a secure storage or safety device. The CSLA also immunized any person who possesses or controls a handgun and who uses a secure storage or safety device from civil liability action, as a civil action for damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a handgun by a third party and if the handgun was used by an unauthorized person, the handgun had been secured properly.
- National Instant Criminal Background Check System Improvement Amendments Act (NICS – 2007). This act did away with the Brady Bill’s 5-day waiting period, provided the FFL was registered in the NICS database. It also provided financial incentives for states to provide data to NICS. This act also introduced mental illness into the prohibited persons list.
And this my friends brings us to the second, important part of today’s reading, weak enforcement of our laws. According to the Gifford’s Law Center, Virginia Scored a D.
- There are far too many laws on the books now. In general, I don’t think we need a rash of new laws. I think when a new law is passed, the law it amends should be repealed and replaced by the new law, a one for one swap I’m ok with, but I don’t feel the need for a bunch of new laws.
- I think there should be a waiting period, bring back the 5 day waiting period; I also think the number of handguns a person is able to be purchased should be restricted to an x number per month.
- I believe in universal background checks, and I think it is OK for a doctor (read mental health) to put a temporary hold on a person’s ability to own a firearm. Otherwise called “Red Flag” laws.
- If a weapon is lost or stolen, it should be reported to the police as soon as possible. Make it a misdemeanor or something.
Would you like to know the sad truth? None of these actions will prevent gun violence. Stay tuned for part 3 of this series. How would you prevent gun violence? What should we do?