We Need Expanded Background Checks and a Ban on Military-style Firearms

Insider NJ's Fred Snowflack argues that action on expanding background checks for buying a gun and banning military-style firearms is needed after the latest mass shootings.

I have never owned a gun and have no intention of ever buying one.

That fact may seem small, almost inconsequential, but in its own way it symbolizes the nation’s divide over firearms. Some people like having guns; others don’t.

Sure, the ongoing battle is over rights and interpreting the Constitution, but so much of it also comes down to personal preference.

That’s probably not going to change. In the wake of two mass shootings last weekend, the president spoke Monday morning about bipartisanship and keeping guns away from unstable people, but said nothing about expanding universal background checks or a federal ban on semi-automatic weapons. Even in the face of two more tragedies, the president is staying on the “pro-gun” side of the debate.

Sentiment about guns has much to do with from where people come. I know that hunting has been a common pastime in many rural parts of New Jersey and that many raised in those areas grew up around firearms. I grew up in Union City,  so hunting was hardly a pastime for me, my family, or for that matter, anyone I knew.

Not having grown up with guns, the last thing I want is a loaded gun in my house. Most of all, I would fear an accidental shooting by myself or perhaps by someone visiting.

I understand the other side of the argument; many people say they want a gun for protection.

No reasonable person would deny anyone the need for protection, but a reasonable person should ask, protection from exactly what. It’s not a facetious question.

We live in a time when crime is down across the board throughout New Jersey, according to State Police records. Many suburban towns, in fact, recorded not one violent crime over one year, according to the
most recent police statistics.

There are reasons why crime is down. Technology helps police stay abreast of ongoing criminal activity. So do surveillance cameras, which are in more places than we probably know.

The frustrating thing is that so often the fear of crime is widely exaggerated by those who say they need guns. Yes, anything can happen at any time, but the belief a band of armed marauders is going to
indiscriminately break into your house is paranoia more than anything else.

Feelings about this are meaningful, because many who reflexively oppose more gun control do so because they’re convinced the end game is confiscation of all firearms. That makes a rational discussion
tough.

And it leads to some truly, unfortunate, rhetoric.

Recall how in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Wayne LaPierre, the head of the NRA, proclaimed that,  “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

We now see that such “good guys” apparently are in short supply as mass shootings have continued, And it’s worth noting that Texas, the scene of one of the recent shootings, has very lenient gun laws. Predictably, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, talked about the need for “prayer.” We long have heard people of various political stripes talk about “thoughts and prayers” after a mass shooting. But that has
now become a meaningless cliche.

Action on expanding background checks and banning military-style firearms is needed. It is common after mass shootings for some to predict that the tragedy of the latest event will spur – finally – a
consensus on something as simple as more background checks.

I wouldn’t bet on it. As mentioned, the president talked about background checks in his early-morning tweet, but not in his comments a few hours later, And that was pretty revealing.

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  • 1Prop

    First and foremost, Wayne LaPierre has to go. A good leader knows how to adjust the mission to the times. He’s stuck deep in last century. Second, the main problem with any gun control initiative is that what may seem logical for NJ doesn’t work in New Mexico or Idaho. Third, due to the “all or nothing” attitude in today’s politics, practical discourse will never occur, as such compromise is impossible. Fourth, blaming the gun, Trump, video games, or Hollywood simply avoids what really needs to be discussed – why are people so angry? Maybe it’s because of the continual erosion of our liberties and freedoms. Maybe its because we are constantly told what we can’t say, think, write or do. Maybe we’re tired of paying for illegal immigrants to get everything for free just so the Democrats can gain votes. There is no simple answer. No ban or prohibition will stop the violence until it is determined what is making people so angry.

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