OPINION: Two views on guns, ugly problems & issues
Ugly truths, ugly questions on guns
On the most basic human level, when the life of a loved one is lost, the degree of gun technology used may not be the first question that hits those who have suffered the loss. But sooner or later, it comes to the forefront of the minds of survivors, observers and even the media: What was the nature of the weapon, and how did it get there?
Running the gamut from botched burglaries, accidents and domestic arguments to drive-by shootings and acts of terrorism, a more basic question arises: How did a gun — any gun — get to that place and time to enable the fatality?
The world certainly has countless burglars who will shy away and retreat from a situation that results in confrontation; there are doubtless millions of domestic confrontations that find resolution without firing a shot; and we are waiting for that glorious day when a terrorist who hates the U.S. government will issue a warning, empty a building and blow up ONLY the building without hurting a soul: Statement made, force used, people protected.
The fact is that availability of destructive tools is a frightening reality, and guns are the most prevalent vehicle, also the most dramatic for media coverage. It is indeed a cruel irony that acts of terror use guns to kill on our home soil, as our own legislators refuse to act in strength and unity to limit their availability domestically.
And someone profits from this mess.
An article in The New York Times last year recounted thefts of weapons sent by the CIA into Jordan, meant for Syrian rebels, and now on the black market. Further, the Times reported that Americans had been killed by some of the stolen weapons at a police training facility in Amman, and that Jordanian officials who participated in the scheme reaped windfall profits on the black market.
And someone profits from this mess.
Now, for some more ugly truths — and analogies. Cars kill people too. Cars are stolen, suffer manufacturing faults and are recalled; cars are dangerous in the wrong hands. But cars serve a larger economic and social purpose, and for better or worse, we have built huge societal structures to manage them: highway systems, fuel depots, traffic lights, licensing and insurance requirements. In a phrase, the economic feedback is bigger than the blowback. We as a society support cars and their intense regulation.
How have guns fallen so far under the radar? How has something so unmanageable — even by federal pros in the business of protecting this country — allowed to become a profit center for the very few who have means to stay aloof from harm?
Lobbyists for the gun manufacturers have issued the famous Maxim, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun…” OK. We are glad that police officials responding to a mass shooting are well-armed. But who, except a certifiable idiot, would expect us to want every Tom, Dick and Harry to “carry?” We have enough trouble ensuring that our trained and armed police forces get adequate practice time to ensure they don’t kill accidentally.
Maybe one answer lies in the original and much-heralded Second Amendment. Maybe if we stick by the original intent and force by law all legal gun owners to join a militia and become trained, maybe we have a chance. Needed would be registration, insurance and even yet-to-be used technology to track EVERY GUN MANUFACTURED with a chip. Steps such as these might salvage and make saner the rights so many recreational (and “protectional”) gun owners want to preserve.
Oh, and let’s not forget: our elected officials at all levels must have the courage not to be complicit in profits that are so destructive to the fabric of our society and our democracy.
A look at gun reform in a progressive state
By Assemblymember Joseph Lentol
We’ve come through a devastating and upsetting time, watching the carnage in Sandy Hook, followed by the events this week in Las Vegas and hearing from the families of the victims. It’s yet another disaster that we wish we could have prevented. But will we?
Certainly, the federal government has yet another reason to justify the strengthening of gun laws across the country. I am proud to say that New York has led the way.
When the New York Legislature developed the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE Act) in 2013 it was clear that dealing with gun violence would be a challenge; but we — meaning both political parties — also understood that it was a paramount responsibility of ours. Refusing a legislative response to rampant gun violence was not an option.
We as a state chose to take the first step forward because standing by was not an option. New York laws continue to respect one’s right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment, but our laws improve oversight and control over guns purchased in New York.
When I debated the SAFE Act, I was asked whether it is the federal government’s job to enact gun control laws. I said then, and I say now emphatically, YES! It is indeed Congress’ job.
Here in New York, we have adopted a good law that lays a foundation aimed at preventing the tragedies like we saw in Newtown, Washington, D.C., Fort Hood, Orlando and now Las Vegas. At the same time, we took great care to balance the rights of all individuals.
We must protect the public from gun abuse and carnage. Congress must follow New York’s lead.
Assemblymember Joseph Lentol (Democrat) serves Assembly District 50, including Williamsburg and Greenpoint.