Originally Published: April 7, 2018 6 a.m.
Neighbors and friends, first, let me say I am a certified “concealed carry” handgun owner, and I would like to share a few basic thoughts on Guns in America. I do not own a long gun of any kind.
In the 1700s, we were a country mainly of rural outposts. Self-defense was a necessity and our founding fathers allowed for that in the Constitution giving us the “right to bear arms.”
Now, as a more developed country, we have a very different population make up. Mainly metropolitan, in congested city settings with law enforcement nearby.
Since those early beginnings, and with advances in technology, one individual using a semi-automatic rifle can now act as a one person army, inflicting substantial loss of life on an innocent community.
Had our founding fathers been able to foresee this evolution in weapons, I’m quite certain they would have made stipulations that made sense for gun ownership in today’s society. That, however, did not happen, and now we as a nation must take the necessary corrective steps.
Case in point: in 1996, Australia experienced the Port Arthur Massacre on the heels of many previous mass shootings. Port Arthur then became their watershed moment which spurred them, as a country, to outlaw semi-automatic, self-loading rifles. Their mantra: “We do not want to go down the path of America.” Gun licensing was also tightened and a mandatory gun buyback program for banned weapons was enacted.
In 2002, Australia further restricted gun laws by limiting barrel length, caliber and capacity of sport shooting rifles. All changes that to them, made sense in a free sport shooting (non-militarized) society.
Now, in a recent year with a population of roughly 24 million, Australia had 24 murders committed using a firearm. In contrast, a singular American city, Chicago, population 2.7 million, had over 500 murders by firearms, which should cause any reasonable person in our country, to seriously question how we have allowed ourselves to get to this point.
Gun rights in America have morphed into a political money game, and we as Americans have become the victims. In the last national election, the NRA alone pledged $30 million to support the Republican presidential candidate as well as select donations to individual legislative candidates.
Notice the cycle here, gun makers donate to the NRA, the NRA donates to politicians, the politicians preserve the laws that allow gun makers to produce and sell all kinds of weapons without restriction. Nowhere in that cycle are there protections for people like us. It’s only about money, guns and the politicians getting re-elected.
With our rights for gun ownership guaranteed under the Second Amendment, gun elimination should NOT be the goal for America. However, common sense weapons control and thorough background checks should be.
After so many mass killings in recent years, there are those who suggest that if we simply “fix” all the mental health problems of our country including PTSD, our mass killing issue would be solved. But c’mon folks, let’s be real about this…. “it’s the guns” and their availability, specifically the AR-15 / AK-47 style semi-automatic rifles. They are the root of this issue. We need to start there.
I have yet to hear one common sense reason from anyone, as to why they “need” a semi-automatic rifle. They simply want one … period!
And lastly, for those who choose to blame our mass killings on violent video games, that argument does not stand up. Most psychologists agree that there is no connection between the two. Also note that China, Canada, Australia, the U.K. and other developed countries, do not have our mass killing problem. Again, “it’s the guns” and the availability of assault rifles in America.
The important question facing us all is how bad does a mass killing event have to be in the United States, before even the most staunch gun rights advocates finally say “OK, enough!” Five-hundred victims, one-thousand? It could happen. Haven’t we had enough gun-related tragedies already?
I implore all Americans to stand tall and be strong on this issue, as did our friends in Australia, and unite, finally, to make the right choices for America by eliminating semi-automatic rifles. Don’t let the momentum gained in Parkland, Florida, slip away.
Please share your thoughts on this important issue, with your elected Washington officials.
Note – After sweeping gun-control legislation in Australia, crime in general has not increased and suicide by gun has dropped substantially.
Tim Anderson is a retiree from the banking and insurance industry who now resides in Prescott.