Various political perspectives are represented on the Leader-Telegram’s editorial board.
We have a gun owner and others who don’t choose to own guns. We have some who hunt — or at least did so in the past — and others who do not.
Diverse viewpoints are critical in a democracy. Much of our learning is through the exchange of ideas.
There is, however, at least one key similarity among those of us on the board: We’re all parents. And that makes the relatively recent mass shootings at schools and other locations particularly terrifying.
There is simply too much gun violence in this nation. There is no refuting that statement.
So what do we do?
Much of the national debate to date on gun control has been focused on areas of disagreement. We’d like to offer a few suggestions on the topic on which our group — though admittedly small — can agree. These include:
• All firearm transactions must be documented.
• Everyone purchasing a firearm should be required to pass a background check.
• Stronger efforts in the mental health arena could prevent some gun deaths.
• More effectively enforcing current laws could reduce some of the violence.
While the first two standards are met in many firearm purchases, they aren’t when a private party purchases a weapon from another private party. Here’s a solution: If a private party wants to sell a firearm to another private party, the seller must do so through a federally licensed firearm dealer. There would be a background check and documentation filed for the transaction. The seller would pay a fee to the dealer for these services.
• • •
The need for action is clear.
As of Sept. 1, mass shootings in the United States had claimed the lives of 335 people this year. And firearm suicides account for about 65 deaths per day, or a total of 23,854 in 2017, according to the Violence Policy Center.
And Democrats aren’t the only ones calling for change. Consider:
“For me, this is all about trying to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have guns in the first place, that is to say violent criminals and people who are dangerously mentally ill,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., told Fox News. “I’d like to see us apply background checks on all commercial sales so that we can identify people who are in one of those two categories that shouldn’t have guns.
“There is no one thing we can do, but if we can make it harder for dangerous people to get firearms in the first place, maybe we’ll save some lives.”
The right to bear arms has never been unconditional. Parameters have always been established for other rights as well, such as the freedoms of speech, press and religion.
In regard to the Second Amendment, the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
Scalia added, “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” It is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
Gun violence is an epidemic in the United States, so let’s find some common ground on this issue. Inaction is not an option.
Surely we can find a way to employ bipartisan efforts that will help protect both our citizenry’s safety and our personal freedoms.