Some 300 million guns, more or less, currently are in the hands of Americans. For all purposes that equates to roughly one gun per American.
When I say American, I mean each and every person — babies, children, adults and the elderly — living in our country. The average life of a gun is 75 years therefore stopping the sale of guns isn’t going to stop incidents like we just experienced in Newtown, CT.
Before we go any further, let me firmly state I am in favor of gun control. Unfortunately, the cat is out of the bag, as the old expression goes. We already have far, far too many guns in the hands of those who can do us harm. If we stop selling all types of guns the full advantage would not show up for another 50 years.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) takes the position that we should provide armed guards in all schools in America might sound good. But, here is a simple question: Do we need 15 armed guards at a school that has 15 entrances? Or, will a gun-crazy come in one door while our armed guard is at another door? Or, perhaps we must block up 14 of the 15 doors to exclude outsiders — more akin to a prison than a school.
Now, the NRA is recommending that the guards could be armed volunteers. What will happen the first time an untrained volunteer shoots and kills an innocent student who the guard misidentified as a possible terrorist? So much, in my opinion, for the NRA’s lofty recommendations.
Pierre Tristam, Miami Herald columnist, recently pointed out that Duval County, which includes metropolitan Jacksonville, population 870,000, will end 2012 with over 100 homicides. Duval has more murders with firearms in a year that all of England with a population of 63 million. Florida and the whole of the United States definitely are going in the wrong direction.
The chance of passing a law preventing the sale of all guns, except to a law enforcement officer, has absolutely no chance in Congress. What we should do, must do, is at least reinstate the ban on the sale of automatic weapons. This would, as guns are destroyed and turned in, eventually have an effect. By any stretch of the imagination does anyone need an assault weapon unless they are in the military or a special unit of the police? And, in that case they are supplied to the individual in need.
The next and most critical step is the identification and treatment of those whose profile indicates a propensity to do harm with a gun. I asked a psychologist friend of mine and he suggested such an intense study would create an entirely new specialty field of medicine. But it is something we must do. A big part of the problem is a family’s shame knowing such a person is a member of the family. Most in that situation feel it is better to hide the fact and pray they do not take the next step and do harm, than seek help.
Unfortunately, a great number of Americans have fallen for the NRA concept of the best defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. The only thing this will resolve is who is the better shot. We must establish better screening of gun buyers — including guns purchased at gun shows.
We must identify and monitor groups such as Neo-Nazis that promote violence. Those who legally own guns must keep them secure from burglars who break and enter solely for the purpose of stealing them. We must learn to recognize situations that lead to shootings.
Most of all we must put pressure on our elected officials to lead Americans in a safer direction. Politicians must learn that there are more votes in America against illegal guns than there is money in the NRA treasury to finance their elections.
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