Monday, March 19, 2018


Gun laws need to be addressed


    An AR-15 rifle with an attached silencer lies on the floor at a gun range at the NRA headquarters on March 20 in Fairfax, Va., on March 20.

    Tribune News Service

Is this what it’s come to?

In the aftermath of yet another mass shooting in the U.S., some have called for lethal drones, increased police presence and firepower, and armed teachers at schools.


Many of the teachers we’ve heard from following the slaughter of 17 people in Parkland, Fla., don’t want to carry guns at school. They shouldn’t have to.

Our society cannot devolve into the Wild West. One of government’s core jobs is to protect its citizenry, and that does not mean arming them to the hilt.

We’ll probably see additional law enforcement at our schools and tightened security measures at their entrances. But arming faculty would be a drastic mistake. Even if we educate teachers on weapon use, they will not receive military-level training. Errors in judgment will occur. Mistakes will be made. Innocent people, at some point, will die.

Brandon Friedman, an army infantry officer in Iraq and Afghanistan and former member of the Obama administration, agreed.

“Gun fighting is less about the weapon and more about a state of mind,” he wrote in a recent column for the New York Daily News. “It’s about will. The will to assert yourself over — and kill — your armed adversary who wants to kill you. Developing this mental skill takes months or years of dedicated training, and a singular focus that teachers don’t, and shouldn’t, have.”

Anthony Swofford, a Marine and assistant professor of English at West Virginia University, echoed that sentiment in the New York Times. “There is no reason that any civilian, of any age, should possess this rifle (an AR-15),” he wrote.

“I would never bring a weapon into a classroom. The presence of a firearm is always an invitation to violence. Weapons have no place in a learning environment.”

• • •

“As of 2017,” reads a story from Wisconsin Public Television, “there were no federal laws banning semiautomatic assault weapons, military-style .50 caliber rifles, handguns or large-capacity magazines. There was a federal prohibition on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines between 1994 and 2004, but Congress allowed these restrictions to expire.”

It’s time to revisit that legislation.

AR-15-style rifles were used during tragedies in Parkland; Sutherland Springs, Texas; Las Vegas; Orlando and San Bernardino, Calif.

“It has a large magazine capacity and shoots at high velocity,” writes Sacramento (Calif.) Bee columnist Erwin Chemerinsky, dean at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. “Its bullets are especially destructive. The AR-15 is adapted from the military M-16 rife and serves no purpose other than to murder people quickly.”

Legislators are not about to keep rifles and handguns from law-abiding citizens, but employing some limitations would not violate the Second Amendment. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said the right secured by the amendment “is not unlimited” and that it doesn’t prevent goverment from banning “dangerous and unusual weapons.”

• • •

Some argue that bad actors will obtain guns despite gun-control efforts. This is a specious stance. Some addicts will always get a hold of methamphetamine, but we still have laws limiting its availability and criminalizing its use.

“Anyone who tells you that arming teachers is a solution is clueless,” Friedman wrote. “It’ll cost kids’ lives. Teachers need to be teaching, not training to fight. But they’re up against weapons of war. And that’s on us.

“Rather than arming teachers to shoot back, the more obvious solution is to prohibit the sale and ownership of weapons like the AR-15. And hopefully we will. Soon.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods announced this week it would stop selling assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines. It also will not sell firearms to anyone under the age of 21. The move should be applauded, but the private sector alone cannot fix this problem.

The Declaration of Independence says Americans have unalienable rights that include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those rights were extinguished for 17 people in Parkland, Fla., on Feb 14.

Our government is long overdo in addressing this issue. Do something, Washington.

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