I have a license to carry a firearm. So does my husband. So do many of my friends. So know this at the tart: I promise I am not trying to take away your right to possess a firearm. What I am trying to do is make our legislature pass common-sense measures to make our society safer.
Consider what we, as a society, generally do when faced with viable threats:
A man boards a plane with a shoe bomb. We now take our shoes off at the airport.
Children suffer injuries in car accidents. Nationwide standards are created for proper restraint systems.
Drunk driving kills 25,000 people in 1980. MADD is formed and works with legislatures to pass laws to decrease drunk driving deaths by half in 2013.
And yet: In 1991 three students shot and killed 12 classmates, 1 teacher, injuring 21 additional people. More than 260 school shootings have occurred since then, and 19 young people have died at school. More generally, in 2014, there were 12,563 deaths by firearm. This year, 2015, isn’t over yet and already there have been 10,200 deaths by firearm. Over 500 children under the age of 11, have died or been injured been injured since January 1, 2015. (Statistics: Gun Violence Archive)
School districts have responded; they’re locking their doors, and using already-scarce resources to hire unarmed security guards. Colleges are taking similar measures. But that hasn’t been enough to stop school shootings.
We need to change our laws.
I do not want to take away anyone’s right to have a gun. We have guns in our home. But I question the ease in which we can obtain a weapon of mass destruction. Yes, mass destruction. Anyone affected by gun violence will attest that it created mass destruction in their lives.
My friend’s son just received his driver’s license. He took a 30-hour classroom course, spent 12 hours driving with a licensed instructor, spent 6 hours driving with his parent, and took a written test combined with a practical one. He had to prove he could actually drive the car. At the Department of Motor Vehicles after he took (and passed) the tests, he had to take a visual acuity test.
When I received my license to carry a firearm, I took a 4-hour class sponsored by the NRA. I took my certificate to the police station, filled out a form and a background check was performed. Once that was passed I met with the officer for an interview and fingerprinting. Less than 2 months later I returned to the station to pick up my license.
I never had to prove that I retained the information provided to me during the 4 hour course or that I could handle a live weapon (let alone a fake one). There was no simulated test that I had to pass or a written one. My vision, depth perception and reaction times were not evaluated.
How can that be? How can it honestly be easier to arm myself then to drive a car to get groceries?
I believe my children’s teacher should not have to worry about protecting them from gunfire. I believe that we need nationwide laws, just as we have nationwide vehicle laws. I believe in background checks—each time you purchase a weapon. I believe in more stringent testing, more class time and actual live fire exercises. I believe when you go to renew your gun license you should have a vision, reaction and cognition test. I believe your gun license should be reciprocal in every State and the same laws should apply in California as in Nebraska.
I believe if you need a gun permit to purchase a gun, you should not be able to buy the bullets that go in that gun without a gun license. In many States anyone can purchase bullets. No license required. A gun is useless without bullets, how is it that you do not need a firearm license to purchase them?
It is up to us, each and every one of us as a stakeholder in our society, to demand the kind of legislative action that will reduce gun violence.
Even with the right laws in place, will criminals still be able to obtain a gun? Of course; after all, there is still drunk driving. But if the number of drunk driving statistics has fallen by half with better regulation, oversight and consequences for operating under the influence.
Why are we not taking action to reduce gun violence?
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