What is the goal of the latest firearms proposal coming out of the United States Senate and presumably endorsed by the President?
Proper legislation usually has an objective. It seeks to accomplish some kind of outcome by either provoking or preventing people from taking certain actions as a way to solve an underlying problem.
The executive orders issued by President Obama and the Senate proposal introduced today lack a focused point. If the goal is to reduce or eliminate mass shootings like those we have witnessed in Sandy Hook, CT or Aurora, CO; the Senate proposal might have a material impact over the long term, though in the short term they will not reduce the number of high caliber assault weapons already in circulation.
If the objective is to not only reduce the instances of mass shootings; but, to reduce gun violence in general across the country, the proposals do little to make any difference. These proposals will make it much harder for a law abiding citizen to get their hands on a new high capacity, high caliber semi-automatic firearm; however, a criminal seeking a simple handgun or shotgun will still be able to skirt the laws using straw purchasers and black market gun runners.
The President seems to have chosen not to address the core issues behind youth violence across the country: poverty, joblessness, minimal access to mental health care, parents abandoning their children and a society that promotes violence through it's pop culture. These issues are not easy to legislate directly, thus unattractive to politicians. However, the President has the ultimate bully pulpit and could use that position to influence and inspire his peers in Hollywood, the mental health community and parents across the country. Instead of trying to uplift the nation with his words and deeds, the President has decided to demonize Republicans, gun owners, the NRA and gun manufacturers. In politics, it is easier to start to a conflict than it is to build a national consensus by changing hearts and minds. The President is choosing the easy way.
While some of the proposals have merit and are worth debating in detail, many are unenforceable. Just because it will be illegal to own a semi-automatic rifle, does not mean people will just turn theirs in or register it with the feds. Hand guns were banned in Chicago for nearly 2 decades and I personally know of residents who kept one in their home anyway. In fact, nearly every Chicagoan knows someone who kept an illegal handgun in their home within city limits and there was nothing the Chicago Police could or would do about it.
Background checks at gun shows might help stave off a few gang purchases; but, straw buyers will always be able to slip past those checks.
The President and his allies have honorable, yet naive, intentions. I believe his goal is to prevent another mass shooting tragedy and reduce the homicide rate among youth in cities across the country. Since weapons used in recent mass shootings were purchased legally, some proposals may prevent the most dangerous weapons currently available from making it into the hands of a deranged psychopath. The vast majority of gun murders in this country are committed with illegally acquired hand guns and pistols. The new proposals might make it somewhat harder for criminal organizations and street gangs to acquire firearms in the short term as they adjust to the new laws. However, once in place, buyers and sellers will learn how to circumvent, undercut and poke holes in the new laws as they do with all other laws.
Many illegally possessed handguns make their way on the street in one of three ways:
1) They are stolen or "lost."
2) They are bought legally at gun shows or through straw purchasers with clean records and then passed onto criminals in illegal transactions
3) They are privately sold or traded among criminal elements
In other words, there is a well established black market for illegal gun running already alive and well in America. A gun ban will only serve to drive up the price of certain high demand guns and thus increase the profitability for black market dealers. The new profits will draw in more dealers looking for fast money. They will keep the flow of illegal hand guns going at an increased price as they find better ways to acquire larger numbers of small arms.
The President is naive to believe that the government can keep guns out of the hands of those who break the law for a living. Government does it's best to protect citizens from these criminals; but, due to it's own limitations it can not always be successful. If government can not effectively strip criminals of guns, citizens are left to defend themselves and their families in the face of immediate dangers. The Democratic proposals make it harder for private citizens to acquire the tools that would allow them to defend themselves from criminals and those who are deeply disturbed.
Some parts of the President's previously stated plans are reasonable. Some are purely political. Most are insufficient to make a difference in America's homicide epidemic.
Can a piece of gun legislation be considered useful if it only minimally deters criminals from acquiring deadly weapons and in the process severely restricts law-abiding citizens from acquiring the means of their own self defense?
Can any single piece of legislation or act of Congress temper the rage and disenfranchisement that leads to violent outbursts?
The President had a chance to lead the nation in countering the complexities that feed the violence raging within.
His executive orders and the proposals from Congress are superficial and only marginally impact the core issue. As such, it has no point and will have a very limited impact. It is not legislation worthy of the times or our country.
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