“The voices that blocked these safeguards were not the voices of an aroused nation. They were the voices of a powerful gun lobby, a gun lobby that has prevailed for the moment in an election year. . . . We have been through a great deal of anguish these last few months and these last few years — too much anguish too forget so quickly. So now we must complete the task which this long needed legislation begins.” – President Lyndon Johnson, 10/22/68
As the families of the victims in the Newton, Connecticut school shooting prepares to bury their loved ones we as a nation must act to prevent horrible events like this from ever happening again. For far too long we as a nation have been too timid with our gun laws, over the years we have made it easier to purchase guns and have not been stringent on regulating those guns. The number of child victims has now totaled 20 with eight boys and twelve girls among the dead. There were also six adults killed bringing the death toll at the elementary school to 26.
Here is an August 2012 CNN Poll about guns in America:
26 — Percentage of Americans who favor a handgun ban, a record low, according to a 2011 Gallup Poll.
60 — Percentage who supported a ban in 1959, the first year Gallup asked this question.
47 — Percentage of Americans who told Gallup in 2011 that they had at least one gun at home.
Gun ownership facts
At least 41 — Percentage increase in background checks for new gun owners in Aurora, Colorado, on the weekend after shootings there.
56 — Number of votes in the Senate that the assault weapons ban received in 1994.
19 — Types of military-style weapons affected by the ban.
10 — Years the assault weapons ban was in effect until it expired.
Do guns make us safer?
40 — Percentage of guns sold through unlicensed, private sellers.
310 million — Total number of nonmilitary firearms in the United States as of 2009.
$75 or less — Retail price of a low-caliber handgun.
At least $1,500 — Retail price of a “higher-end” shotgun or rifle.
49 — Percentage of Americans who said in 2011 that protecting gun-ownership rights was important.
46 — Percentage who thought gun control was more important.
58 — Percentage polled in 2011 after the shootings in Tucson, Arizona, that felt mass shootings were mainly isolated events carried out by “troubled individuals.”
16,799 — Homicides in the United States in 2009.
11,493 — Homicides by firearm in 2009.
150,000 — Brady Act background checks in 2009 that led to the rejection of a potential gun buyer’s application.
39 — Percentage of applications denied by states because of a felony conviction or indictment.
Some say guns do not kill people, people kill people, but to that I say try committing a massacre like Columbine or the Connecticut Elementary School shooting with your fist and not a gun. Guns kill and need to be regulated more rigorously. The constitution grants everyone the opportunity to bear arms, it is a right that should be afforded to all responsible Americans, but I would not lose any sleep if we all bid a farewell to arms.
ABC News recently released a report taking a statistical look at gun sales:
2012 has been a record setting year for gun sales. As of November, the FBI recorded 16,808,538 instant background checks for gun purchases for 2012.
Even without counting December, which has historically been the busiest month, this beats last year’s record by more than 350,000.
There are more than 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers in the United States, according to the latest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives numbers (as of Aug. 1).
Of those, 51,438 are retail gun stores, 7,356 are pawn shops and 61,562 are collectors, with the balance of the licenses belonging mostly to manufacturers and importers of firearms and destructive devices.
According to ATF reports, in 2010 there were 5,459,240 new firearms manufactured in the United States, nearly all (95 percent) for the U.S. market. An additional 3,252,404 firearms were imported to the United States. That’s nearly 8.5 million new firearms on the street in one year.
Right now if you don’t have a criminal record and you have not been adjudicated as mentally incompetent, you can buy guns. In 2011 the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) ran 16,454,951 background checks for firearms purchases. Only a small number of these purchases (78,211 or 0.48 percent) were denied.
Since 1998 there have been more than 157,690,937 NICS checks. Each check doesn’t necessarily represent a single gun, just a single transaction. Multiple guns can be purchased in a single transaction, with only one check performed and recorded.
Violent crime rates have been falling in recent years, but the number of people killed by firearms in the United States remains high. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, between 2006 and 2010 47,856 people were murdered in the U.S. with firearms, more than twice as many as were killed by all other means combined.
There is no time like the present to act on implementing new gun regulations and it was refreshing to hear pro-gun Senator Joe Manchin declare this morning, “I don’t know anyone that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting. I mean, these are things that need to be talked about.” Also encouraging were the statements by conservative pundit Joe Scarborough who said, “…Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-style, high-caliber, semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high-capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want.”
There will be those who say now is not the time to enact new regulations and that we must have a national discussion about what to do next and about mental health, while those issues should be a part of the larger debate on securing Americans against random acts of gun violence that should not stop significant legislation from being enacted now!
President Obama seems ready to act, he said on Friday, “We have been through this too many times … [we] have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” Following up on his appeal for meaningful action President Obama said on Sunday at the memorial Service for the victims, “No single law, no set of laws, can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society… But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.”
Meaningful gun regulation such as bans on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons; requiring background checks for all gun purchases; stricter laws to make sure that gun owners follow safety procedures; new steps to make it easier to trace guns used in crimes; and vastly ramped-up data collection and research on what works to prevent gun violence, both of which are regularly blocked by the gun lobby should be passed by Congress tomorrow ( E.J. Dione)!
Every American has a right to “bear arms”, but as an American I have a right to life! I have a right to know that when a loved one goes to school he/she will return home at night. I have a right to know that when I go to the movies I will return home at night. I have a right to expect that reasonable gun control measures are in-effect that will help guarantee my right to life.