The Transylvania Times -

Leaders Fail On Gun Violence


June 19, 2017

The United States has the worst record by far for gun violence among industrialized, democratic nations. A “mass shooting” is defined as an incident in which four or more people (excluding the assailant) are shot or killed. In the first 165 days of this year, there were 154 mass shootings, nearly one a day, in the United States.

That figure does not represent the true carnage. Last Wednesday five people were shot while a group of Republicans practiced for the annual Congressional baseball game in another mass shooting. On that same day, a UPS worker in San Francisco killed three fellow employees and wounded two others before killing himself.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a laissez faire attitude that nothing can be done about gun violence. Congressman Mo Brooks (R. - Alabama) said after the baseball practice shooting, “There are adverse aspects to each of those rights we enjoy as people. And what we saw here is one of the bad side effects of someone not exercising those rights properly. But we’re not going to get rid of the freedom of speech because some people say some really ugly things that hurt other’s people’s feelings.”

That argument is disingenuous and misleading. To equate taking someone’s life to hurting someone’s feelings is the height of absurdity. People can have their feelings hurt every day, week or month, but they still can go on living a successful, content life.

No right is absolute. There are restrictions on freedom of speech. There are libel and slander laws, as well as laws and regulations against disruptive speech. Individual rights are restricted to benefit society as a whole.

After the baseball practice shooting, members of Congress seemed to express more concern about their own safety than that of the average American. Talk immediately commenced about increasing their own security by adding security cameras or bodyguards. Congressmen may be more susceptible to political violence, but adding protection just for themselves does not address this national problem.

The federal government is not alone in making no efforts to reduce gun violence. The North Carolina state House last week passed a bill that would abolish a longstanding requirement that people receive a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon. This step not only would fail to reduce gun violence, but also could actually increase it. While mass shootings garner much of the attention concerning gun violence and the use of assault weapons, most gun violence actually involves one or two people who are shot and killed by handguns.

Presently in North Carolina, applicants for concealed weapons permits must be 21 years old, attend an eight-hour gun safety class and undergo a background check for past crimes and documented mental health issues.

If House Bill 746, however, becomes law, those safeguards will be removed and that will make life more dangerous for everyone, including law officers. As the North Carolina Association of Police Chiefs, which opposes HB 746, stated, “Repeal of the concealed carry weapon permit requirement eliminates a valuable method to identify persons who should not be carrying a firearm, such as the mentally ill, convicted felons and identified gang members. The NCACP opposes repeal of the concealed carry permit system as detrimental to the safety of the public and law enforcement officers.”

Such a statement questions the intelligence of our state leaders. Who would pass a law that would make it more likely that the mentally ill, convicted felons and gang members not only have access to weapons, but to allow them to conceal those weapons? What person in their right mind is opposed to running a background check to see if a person is a criminal or mentally ill in order to carry a lethal weapon? And before people begin shouting about “rights,” keep in mind that teachers, of whom more than 99 percent are innocent, have to subject themselves to fingerprinting and a criminal background check before they can step into a classroom.

Yet, legislators continue to ignore law enforcement officers’ warnings and the tried and true success of gun legislation in other civilized countries. They continue to fail to significantly reduce gun violence in this country.


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