Originally Published: December 22, 2015 6:01 a.m.
While all of us should be outraged over the recent mass murder attacks in San Bernardino, Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina and Connecticut (and many more), some of that anger should be directed at Republican lawmakers and the NRA for placing a higher priority on the monetary profits of the gun industry than on the true safety of Americans. And as a further insult to common sense, just recently Republican lawmakers voted to continue allowing possible terrorists on the no-fly list to buy guns thus granting them a higher priority over our safety. Republican lawmakers are also refusing to fund research into the causes of gun violence, stalling to continue health benefits for 9/11 responders, and blocking a key appointment to fight terrorism financing.
Based on the fallacy that more guns, including assault-style weapons, will make us safer, Republican lawmakers and the NRA have led this country into deadly violence and mass shootings unrivaled in the rest of the world. By some reports, every day in the United States 89 people die due to gun-related violence, totaling about 30,000 deaths/year.
In their warped thinking, Republican lawmakers and the NRA would have us revert to the brutal shootouts of the Old West days! And to those claiming that the liberal left is trying to take away your right to bear arms - that is not true. Those saying so are just using a hyperbolic distraction from intelligently addressing our country's gun violence. And sorry, gun absolutists, no right in our constitution is exempt from unlimited reasonable regulation. Even the Earp brothers here in Arizona were smart enough to realize that some forms of gun control were necessary to reduce violence.
I understand there is a fair amount of ignorance out there. Susan Stamper Brown in her Talk of the Town as usual presented no real constructive solutions other than "Fix the heart and you will fix the problem." If someone believes that alone will really fix our problem, then there really is a special on swampland. And now Trump and his supporters are spewing disgusting hatred against Muslims. Whether attacks are by radicalized ISIS supporters or an aberrant white male (the latter have committed the vast majority of mass attacks on U.S. soil), they are all terrorists, and we should try everything in our power to prevent/deter all of them! But if you believe Trump, we should ban all white males too.
And we hear other distractions like gun control measures will never stop the killings so let's do nothing. Yes, just like crime, we can never stop gun violence. But because we are humans with an intellect, we react to problems and have formed laws and created law enforcement agencies to deter crime. So, should we take logical steps to control the rampant gun violence in our country. For example, although some states have closed some loopholes, at the national level some blatantly insane problems remain:
Insane Fact #1: Criminals, the mentally ill and terrorists can get guns without a background check via unlicensed dealers online or at gun shows. Polls show Americans want common sense universal background checks to close these loopholes.
Insane Fact #2: If a background check isn't completed within three days, according to the NRA-backed amendment to the Brady bill, even a licensed dealer can sell the gun anyway no matter how dangerous the buyer actually is. This is exactly what happened in the South Carolina church shooter case. Let's give law enforcement a more reasonable time to perform their job.
Insane Fact #3: Under-regulated straw purchases, where someone buys guns and then sells them or gives them to dangerous people, threatens all of us. This occurred in the San Bernardino case.
Insane Fact #4: We allow the sale of assault rifles. They aren't good for hunting. And it is a moral outrage that criminals, the mentally-ill and terrorists can easily purchase assault-style weapons designed solely to maximize killing numerous people quickly.
Insane Fact #5: We allow high-capacity magazines not necessary for hunting or personal protection.
Thoughts and prayers alone from our leaders are disingenuous when they do nothing more and continue to reject measures to control gun violence. Common sense dictates we do something to end this outrageous violence. True solutions will be multi-faceted, including: closing the existing insane loopholes, implementing common sense controls, tightening visa protocols, updating related laws to require more thorough review of social media posts, and improving treatment for the mentally-ill.
Joe Zarnoch is a local resident interested in both community and national issues. His views are his own and does not represent any group.