Common Sense Gun Control

      • Another tragic mass shooting in the United States has Greg address the divisive issue of gun control.

        Sadly, the time for federal gun control in the States has come and gone. Too many rational citizens want guns to protect themselves from guns. This leads to escalation in madness with no apparent end in sight.  Only hope now resides at the state and local levels to enact their own common sense regulations. Time for progressives to get creative as lawmakers have done with abortion laws in conservative states. Perhaps with clear evidence of reduced gun violence in gun controlled jurisdictions a pathway out of this madness can be found. 

        My hope is for Canada to avoid this vicious cycle altogether.

        Canada’s superiority complex to the U.S. is deserved - on this file, but we haven’t done much lately to address the increase in gun related crimes.

        Most Liberal government initiatives are symbolic, and used to exploit divisions. Ban handguns - fine - but without  increasing penalties for gun related offenses - you are just firing blanks at the problem.

        If symbolic bans are the only tool used we could head down the dark American path where gun ownership increases as a response to unsafe communities. 

        Originally published by Gregory Cawsey, in the Guelph Mercury Guest column 

        I hope the recent shootings in Tucson, Ariz. will generate a groundswell of support for increased restrictions on the use of assault weapons in the United States, where I was born.

        What I don’t get is the opposition to placing reasonable limits on easy access to guns — specifically automatic weapons. No matter where someone falls on the political spectrum surely we can find common ground in keeping guns and automatic weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill. The suspected shooter in Tucson was kicked out of college and needed a mental health clearance to get back in. Yet, he can go to a Sportsman Warehouse and buy a semi-automatic Glock-19 handgun with ease.

        Does the right of an American to own a gun supersede the right to an education? No. But a background check system full of loopholes and an ineffective database have made access to dangerous weapons all too easy for the mentally ill.

        Gun control measures have been muted by the gun lobby. It opposes any restrictions that interfere with this right to bear arms. Democracies, however, place restrictions on behaviour all the time for the safety and wellbeing of society. Narcotic medications are a perfect example where we have laws in place to restrict the use of a potentially dangerous product. And we don’t hand out driver’s licences to those who pass a background check – we test for competence.

        I see the pro-gun crowd and the pro-pot activists as similar camps. While they probably would not have each other as Facebook friends, they share very similar libertarian beliefs. Both want the state to leave them alone and not interfere with what they believe are their inalienable right to their sacred thing. It’s the role of the moderate and rationale majority to keep these two groups in check. In the U.S., one has to wonder - where are those people who pursue efforts for the common good?  

        In certain recent, mass, fatal, U.S. shooting cases such as that on the Virginia Tech campus, the killers obtained their guns and ammo at legitimate retail outlets.

        I love my country of birth. But its gun culture and a lack of political will to enact common sense regulation to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill undermine its standing in the eyes of the world.

        It also makes me very glad I have dual citizenship and can call Canada my home.  

        No matter what restrictions are placed on obtaining weapons people can never be completely safe from unbalanced individuals bent on killing their fellow man. But few things bring greater carnage than a crazed killer with an automatic weapon spraying rounds of ammo.

        I’ve heard the argument that increased gun control laws won't have any impact because guns are readily available on the street. That doesn’t mean society should allow easy, legal access to a dangerous product. Should it should be perfectly legal to sell semi-automatic weapons to anyone walking off the street?

        To join the U.S. army an applicant needs to go through an exhaustive process that the Tucson killer did not pass. I would like a similar process that includes a condition of mental health, before any civilian is cleared to carry any assault weapon. Of course, people may question any civilian’s sanity who wants to carry an Uzi. In all seriousness, rather than focusing on banning guns we need to strengthen the requirements of ownership.

        While I could easily go along with a complete ban of all guns in the country, I know politically that will never happen. Too many argue law-abiding citizens have the right to own a gun. While I do not agree with this viewpoint, I respect the position. If people want to use guns for sport or believe they must carry a weapon for their protection or their families, I get that.

        Fri Jan 21 2011

        The proliferation of guns in the States is both a cause of the violence, but also stone walls any moves at disarming citizens. Hopeful action will take place, but excuse my pessimism - I have written about this before. I had enough years ago.

        Hear latest thoughts here.