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“Americans Are Paying The Price In Blood”: Guns Kill People In The US Because We Pervert The Second Amendment

America’s gun violence, like our grief in Oregon, seems to know no bounds, no limits, no end. The reason is deadly simple: our very lives are chained to a constitutional amendment that is willfully misinterpreted by many and perverted by gun rights advocates for political ends.

That sullied amendment is the United States constitution’s Second Amendment which states, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The gun industry and its supporters have turned that simple statement into a clever marketing tool, and Americans are paying the price in blood.

On Thursday, Roseburg, Oregon – a three-hour drive south of the Oregon’s largest city, Portland – was rocked by a deadly mass shooting that wounded seven people and took the lives of 10 others, including the gunman. Students were in classes at Umpqua Community College when a 26-year-old gunman shattered their world when he opened fire on them. They are, sadly, not unique: hardly a week has passed in the last three years without a mass shooting.

For 15 years, Ceasefire Oregon has fought the gun lobby – and people like Douglas County sheriff John Hanlin, the gun rights advocate who is investigating this latest shooting – and worked to pass reasonable, effective gun laws.

Hanlin is one of many who claim that the answer to gun violence is to help those who have mental health problems while the rest of us stock up on guns and ammo. Hanlin, gun extremists and groups like the National Rifle Association have scapegoated people with mental health problems for years – but they know that such people are far more likely to be victims of violence than the perpetrators of it (and far more likely to kill themselves than other people).

Gun rights advocates also claim that we need more guns to protect ourselves from gun violence. But with 310m firearms in the US, and despite the fact that one in every three Americans owns guns, more guns are not making us safer.

After the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, we at Ceasefire Oregon worked with Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership, the Brady Campaign and the Oregon Alliance for Gun Safety to pass a background check law despite opposition from a few Democratic legislators and a few Oregon sheriffs, including Hanlin. And, after years of work, Oregon finally passed a bill requiring background checks for almost all gun sales last spring.

But gun violence is a cancer in our nation and, just as no single drug will cure all cancers, no single gun law will cure all gun violence. Rather, we need comprehensive, effective legislation and caring, courageous leadership to change both America’s laws and Americans’ views on guns and gun violence. Too often, gun control advocates hear that nothing can be done to change things in this country, but that’s just not true.

Gun violence prevention researchers and advocates know that we can reduce gun violence by passing effective, common-sense laws, like background checks for all gun sales to stop criminals and those with demonstrated mental health issues and histories of violence from buying guns. Waiting periods between the time of gun purchase and possession can provide purchasers with a cooling-off period to help deter homicide and suicide. Instituting gun violence restraining orders can reduce violence by allowing family members and law enforcement to remove a gun from a loved one who is exhibiting warning signs of violence.

We can require – or at least heavily incentivize through liability statutes – that firearms be kept secured at all times with trigger locks or in a safe. We can reduce gun trafficking by allowing people to purchase only one gun per month. We can reinstate the federal assault weapons ban to ban the purchase and possession of high-capacity magazines and assault rifles, which are not necessary for the most dedicated home-defender or hunter.

And Americans can refuse to support lawmakers of any party who do not support “gun-sense” laws – like background checks, higher standards for gun ownership and funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – at the ballot box. We can challenge all 2016 presidential candidates to issue a plan to cut gun violence by 50% before 2020 (the final year of the next president’s first term in office), and Ceasefire has done so.

We are citizens of a great nation, but our children, our mothers, our fathers and our friends are being mowed down, fed to the gun industry’s insatiable appetite for profit. Our founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment to protect our country. Now we must protect our country from those who pervert the Second Amendment.

We know this can be done. We know this must be done. Our national nightmare of paying into the gun lobby’s profit machine must be brought to an end.

 

By: Penny Okamoto, The Guardian, October 2, 2015

October 4, 2015 - Posted by | Gun Lobby, Gun Violence, National Rifle Association, Second Amendment | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Of course, mental health has to be part of the equation, but so does better governance around guns. But, what I find contradictory is the ALEC led push to get states to say it is illegal for a doctor to ask if a patient has a gun. A couple of states have done this. So, these same concerned citizens say they believe it should be illegal for a doctor who is prescribing Lexapro, Risperdal or Seroquel to ask is depressive patient if he or she owns a gun. These are the same folks who do not support the ACA which gets more people access to mental health care. Help me understand how that reconciles with the mental health problem of gun violence?

    Like

    Comment by Keith | October 4, 2015 | Reply


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