Reducing gun violence in America will require a modern, multifaceted examination of mental health issues as well as gun laws. Many of the needed reforms will take months to design, approve and implement. But some common-sense measures -- especially regarding gun laws -- can quickly be put into effect.
Even as our nation continues to mourn the senseless murders in schools and shopping malls, it's not too soon to begin the most reasonable changes.Like most Americans, Jim Moran is unwilling to wait any longer. The U.S. representative from northern Virginia recently announced he will introduce the "NRA Members' Gun Safety Act" as soon as the 113th Congress convenes. According to alexandrianews.org, the provisions of Moran's bill not only are supported by National Rifle Association members, but have drawn approval ratings ranging from 63 percent to 79 percent.
Five of the provisions make so much sense, the fact that they haven't already been implemented can only be explained by the lobbying stranglehold that the NRA has clamped upon many politicians. The Virginia website describes these five proposed changes in federal law as:
Require background checks for every gun purchase.
Require background checks on gun shop employees.
Prohibit individuals on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms.
Require gun owners to report to police when their guns are lost or stolen.
Establish minimum (federal) standards for concealed carry permits.
To be sure, these changes will not immediately solve the problem. But they will help, and we urge U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, to join NRA members in supporting Moran's bill. Republican pollster Frank Luntz confirms the NRA support that is described in Moran's bill.
Also, we would like to see the creation and widespread use of a national database of people who should not be allowed access to weapons, including felons and those with mental health issues. With modern technology advancing so rapidly, it's past time for states and the federal government to share information about guns and potential gun owners. Furthermore, expected legislation calling for restrictions on assault weapons as well as magazine sizes will likely draw strong public support.
The Columbian's support of these proposals should in no way be construed as impinging upon gun owners' constitutional rights. We support the rights of hunters, target shooters and Americans who own guns for protection of people and property. In fact, gun owners typically are strong advocates of gun safety, and as Moran has said, the NRA "is out of step with its membership on many common-sense gun safety measures. … The NRA's absolutist position on gun issues is an impediment to the safety and security of the public." We agree.
A statement from Moran's office maintained that about 100,000 people in America are shot with a gun each year, and more than 10,000 people are killed using a firearm. Among the dead in 2008-2009, according to the Children's Defense Fund, were 5,740 children.
We are better than this. And even as the search for other, more complicated answers begins, especially in the area of mental health, the need to launch reasonable restrictions on gun sales and gun thefts has never been more urgent.