By Paul Hogan
Spring has now come and gone. My prayers go out to all the families missing their loved ones due to gun violence. Columbine High School; Sandy Hook Elementary School; Las Vegas, Nevada; Parkland High School in Florida to name a few. These massacres are horrific as are the 95-gun violence deaths daily in the United States. (Note: ½ of these are suicides and mental health issues which need to be addressed too.)
I am a gun owner and I used to like to go hunting. We, in Kansas, have a long history of gun regulation. In the Old West, Wichita, and other cow towns, required you to check your guns when you entered town. You could then pick them up when you left. Since the 1930s, ownership of machine guns have been banned. I do not believe that there is a Second Amendment Right to own artillery pieces or bazookas. Here is the challenge, in my mind, with banning assault rifles – there are many types of rapid fire firearms. At one time the lever action Winchester rifle was defined as a rapidly firing firearm. To ban them all would clearly be an infringement on the Second Amendment. What do we do to stop the carnage? Maybe banning assault rifles would be a message and a first step. It probably will not happen because the political power of the NRA.
The political power of the NRA has stopped meaningful reform such as comprehensive back-ground checks to keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers and people with known mental health issues. This includes and is especially directed at gun shows.
I believe this will change. I don’t know when and I don’t know at what cost in terms of lives lost. We have seen this happen before. Think back to the time of the civil rights movement of the 60s, or the women’s movement of the 70s. People thought then that finally there would be a dramatic change. Yet, ask the minorities now if there is equality – if racism is dead in America. Ask women if workforce sexual harassment and unequal pay are past issues. Ask the parents of Sandy Hook if they thought that the loss of 1st grade children would finally be the right time for meaningful regulation.
A sound start is for comprehensive background checks (again opposed by the NRA). I wonder how long it will take for politicians to give up the mantra “proud member of the NRA” (their signal for money contributions from the NRA). I would like to think that the NRA’s power may be waning with the reports of dropped endorsements, but I doubt it.
Hope springs eternal. Maybe “time’s up” is finally approaching for meaningful comprehensive background checks. I hope so for the sake of our citizenship of 250 million citizens versus the political power of the 1 million NRA members with the money of gun manufacturers and the lobbyist for the gun manufacturers. I end as I began with prayers for those we have lost, for their families, for you, for hope, for change.