GUEST OPINION: Necessary steps for reducing gun violence
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 5:15 p.m.
I am appalled that the National Rifle Association has suggested a series of outlandishly irresponsible proposals to reduce gun violence. The organization ignores the fact that the tragedy of gun violence is not limited to our schools.
Quite thankfully, and respectful of the recent horror in Connecticut, very little gun violence occurs in our schools, which for the most part have remained safe havens for our youth.
The NRA wants to blame mental illness for the appalling slaughter we have all witnessed. We indeed must enhance mental support systems in our nation. Guns do not belong in the hands of persons with an illness caused propensity for violence. Yet to suggest that even a substantial minority of persons who cause gun violence are mentally ill is ridiculous. The vast majority of gun crimes are the result of otherwise abled persons making conscious decisions with horrible results.
The NRA has never demonstrated a strong interest in helping the mentally ill, and I find it curious that it claims to do so now.
The NRA says that violence in movies and video games causes gun crime. I have yet to see a professionally accepted, peer-reviewed study that demonstrates a clear link between gun violence and video games or movies. While I personally do not condone violent media, the issue as raised by the NRA is nothing but a red herring. I find it ironic that the NRA seems willing to impose unconstitutional limits to the First Amendment while at the same time touting a host of perceived Second Amendment “rights” upon which the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled.
In the current dialogue about gun violence, I hope that we keep in the forefront of our minds that guns kill, maim and otherwise injure tens of thousands of Americans every year. This violence occurs in homes, on streets, in shopping centers, in workplaces, to friends, to family and, horrifically, sometimes in schools. This orgy of violence is not seen in any other nation that we would define as anything other than undeveloped and lacking civilized norms of behavior.
I am an owner of firearms. I am a hunter. I was a police officer for 30 years. I am respectful of the safe and reasonable possession of firearms. I defer to the U.S. Supreme Court to fulfill its constitutional role in the interpretation of that very Constitution. I also do strongly believe that it is well past time that Congress pass legislation that includes, but is not limited to, language that requires:
Frankly, this is the moment to do democratic battle with the NRA and no longer fear its vengeful wrath. I pray that Congress and President Barack Obama will show a strength of conviction and move forward with thoughtful and strong firearms control legislation. No less than the safe and secure future of our children is at stake.
Scott Swanson, a retired deputy chief of the Santa Rosa Police Department, is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Environmental Crime Committee and served for 15 years as an instructor at the U.S. EPA National Academy. He now lives in Bozeman, Mont.
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