Enough Is Enough! Pass a Federal Gun Control Bill

Within a month and just days apart two mass killings — one in Atlanta Georgia, eight dead, including six Asians and another in Boulder, Colorado, 10 dead – have renewed debates over stricter gun control in the country. Within a week from the Colorado mass murder, two people opened fire at a Chicago gathering, killing one person and wounding seven others. If the seven wounded ended up as fatalities, it would have been the third mass murder within a month.

It’s an understatement to say that most Americans are painfully tired hearing about mass murders. Americans are tired of hearing platitudes, “thoughts and prayers,” followed up with inaction. Many are even exhausted over the arguments: gun ownership rights versus rights to public safety.

Based on mass murder cases, it’s true that some incidences could have been prevented with stricter laws – such scenarios support gun control advocates and Democrats calling for tougher gun restrictions and closing loopholes.

But it’s also true that some mass murderers have had no history of violence and pass background checks to obtain weapons before going on a killing spree. These examples give credence to what some Republicans say, gun laws do not stop mass murders. But certainly, it’s fair enough to say action could be legislated to curb gun violence, at the least.

Where Loopholes Failed
It’s possible that the man (not worth mentioning his name) charged in the Atlanta mass murder could have reconsidered this horrific crime if Georgia had a mandatory waiting period to purchase his gun.

Police say he went on a shooting spree the same day he purchased his firearm. There are only 10 states and DC that have mandatory waiting periods for all purchases of firearms, despite studies showing impulsive killing is a real phenomenon. Studies suggest waiting periods on gun purchases could have an 11% reduction in firearm suicide rates and 17% drop in gun homicides.

In the Boulder mass shooting, a state where guns laws are tougher than Georgia, the accused passed a universal background check. He was previously convicted of a misdemeanor assault but was still able to pass because only convicted felons are prohibited from purchasing weapons in that state. He could have been disqualified from ownership if Colorado state law included all convictions in the ban.

In both recent mass murder cases we see areas where some gun laws (background checks) did not stop the suspects; and closing loopholes (mandatory waiting period, ban all convicted criminals from gun ownership) quite possibly could have prevented the murders.

Go Strong on Laws
The inconsistencies of gun laws state-by-state add to the problem of gun violence. It’s easy to purchase a gun in a state with few restrictions even if your home state has tough laws. It could be as simple as driving a few miles.

Until there is a comprehensive federal law that will require mandatory background checks, ban all individuals convicted of any crime from owning a gun, require a long-waiting period to purchase a weapon, and close all the loopholes – the sad reality is mass murders will keep occurring at the rate they have been.

It would be intellectually dishonest to say even if such a federal law existed, there would be no mass murders.

But a strong, sweeping federal law could have a dramatic impact on reducing gun violence.

A new ban on assault weapons and pistols that can hold large magazines should be permanently banned. There is no reason for combat-style, military-type arms to be made available to the public.

Assault weapons were banned under federal law from 1994 to 2004, but the law expired under a sunset provision. It’s time to ban them again.

Immediately following these two latest mass murders, President Joe Biden called for an immediate ban on assault weapons, closing loopholes, and enacting a federal background checking system. And as anticipated, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Republicans pushed back against the proposals.

Cruz-Hawley’s opinions are so extreme saying that gun laws do not even lessen crimes. In other words, there’s no room for bargaining on federal gun restrictions for these two; and if recent history holds true, for most Republicans.

At the very least, Democrats are trying to find solutions to curb gun violence and offer alternatives, but Republicans have none to offer except that gun restrictions don’t work. All the while, the US has one of the highest rates of deaths from gun violence in the world (3.96 per 100,000), eight times the rate in Canada, nearly 100 times higher than in the United Kingdom (0.04 deaths per 100,000). Asian countries such as Singapore (0.01), Japan (0.02) and South Korea (0.02) have the lowest rates — along with China, at 0.02.

Are we just expected to accept the high rates of gun violence and do nothing? Are we supposed to just look at mass murders as what former Fox host Bill O’Reilly once said, “it [mass murder] is the price of freedom.”

Of course not! If other countries with similar economies to ours can have considerably lower rates of gun violence, there is no reason the US rates at the top tier of countries with the highest gun violence among the likes of poorer and crime-hot countries in Central America and parts of Africa. We should be doing better. Passing a comprehensive, tough federal gun control bill could be a start.

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