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Column: Talk’s great; we need action now

Posted: February 22, 2018 3:08 p.m.
Updated: February 23, 2018 1:00 a.m.

We’ve talked.

And we’ve talked.

And we’ve talked some more.

Talking’s great, but what America needs right now is action. Yes, I’m referring to school shootings, but I’m really referring to far more than that.

The action we need is action designed to stem the tide of all forms of gun violence, not just mass shootings, and no matter where they take place.

Because gun violence is more than about just mass shootings, the answers about what to do about it are multi-faceted, but not insurmountable.

There are a myriad of studies being bandied about right now in response to the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting that left 17 people dead, mostly students. One study shows that during the assault weapons ban enacted in 1994, mass shootings declined. That’s what that particular ban was designed to do, so it worked.

However, it did nothing to curb overall gun violence in the U.S., which has the highest homicide by firearm rate among “advanced” countries, according to the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime, which used the UN’s Human Development Index. In 2012, the U.S. suffered 29.7 homicides by firearm per 1 million people. Sounds like a small number, but the second-worst country, Switzerland (believe it or not), had only a 7.7/1 million homicide by firearm rate.

Assuming these number haven’t changed too much in five years, it seems to me that Americans own and have access to too many firearms of any type, not just assault weapons, thereby leading to far too many gun-related deaths compared to other developed countries.

Therefore, I believe it is logical to enact gun control -- and sooner rather than later.

There are those who say it’s not guns, but the lack of enforcement and/or strength of current gun and other laws. I’ll argue against the first part of that statement, but agree with the second.

For example, we need to close the gunshow loophole. Even one of my nieces, who owns firearms and enjoys shooting them, agrees with that idea.

There are those who point to mental illness as the real problem. And it is a problem. Consider this from TIME Magazine: there were more than 38,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. in 2016. Sadly, about two-thirds of those were suicides. The U.S. does a lousy job of watching over and caring for its mentally ill; that needs to change.

Is it violent video games, TV shows, music and movies; social media and smartphones? Perhaps, but I’ve tended to find those kind of arguments a bit overblown. And, quite frankly, parents -- myself included -- need to do a better job of saying, “No, son, you can’t play that game.”

Firearms were invented for two purposes: to kill, to maim. They are weapons of war. Yes, they can be used to hunt. Yes, they can be used in competitions of skill. But that’s not why they were invented.

Yes, I know that there are plenty of violent crimes, murder included, that are committed without a firearm. That’s still no reason not to address the problem of far too many guns, rifles and true assault weapons being in the hands of far too many people.

And I still believe, as I’ve stated in this space before, that the Second Amendment was never meant to mean that every person has a right to every firearm.

Why do you need an AR-15, the ArmaLite Rifle that spits out 45 rounds a minute, that was used in Parkland? I really want someone to give me a good answer to that question. And don’t just leave me with, “That’s none of your business.” If that’s your answer, then we’re getting nowhere.

To those who say domestic violence and child abuse and sexual abuse are problems, I’m right there with you.

It all needs to be addressed. But not to the exclusion of doing something about our extremely unhealthy obsession with guns.

We can and should act, right now, to reduce the sheer number of firearms available in this country. We can and should act, right now, to restrict access to firearms that are, functionally, military weapons.

Not doing so will inevitably mean more needless deaths across America.

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