A man once stood before GOD his heart breaking from the pain and injustice in the world. "Dear GOD," he cried out, "look at all the suffering and anguish and distress in YOUR world. Why don't you send help?" GOD responded, "I did send help. I sent you."
- A Jewish Folk Tale
It's been a year since I wrote the gun essays. In essay number five, I proposed some ideas about how we might develop a safer society when it comes to firearms. My thinking on this, like most things, has evolved over time but not radically so. Today, a brief review of my proposals, how my point of view has evolved and what progress we've made
- Remove laws that prevent government agencies from researching and advocating for effective ways to prevent gun deaths: I still believe this is one of the most important things we can do as a society -- figure out science-based ways to prevent gun violence. Well, Congress has been unable to do whatever it's supposed to do but the President has basically said "stuff it" to the children in Congress and instructed the CDC to get on with the job of research. Kudos to the President. Raspberries to 535 elected officials.
- Appoint and approve a head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and change the laws that restrict the BATF from creating effective regulations: Done! Kudos to the Senate.
- Increase enforcement of existing laws: I have no idea how we're doing on this one. I suppose we'll have to wait for some statistics on last year's arrests. Stay tuned.
- Create a National Firearms Permit that would be required for the purchase and ownership of firearms.: This one hasn't happened either though I'm encouraged by some change to firearms laws at the state levels. Illinois finally has a permit system. Washington D.C.'s ban has been ruled unconstitutional. But the the ability to standardize our laws and standards for firearms ownership remains elusive. This one is a work in progress.
- Eliminate private sales of firearms.: Another work in progress though I give the US Congress a big, fat "F" on this one. Universal background checks are universally supported by voters but not by elected officials. You know that big money is a problem when politicians don't listen to citizens. At the state level, some states are moving to better regulate the sale of firearms.
- Criminalize the negligent storage of firearms.: Another work in progress. I'd like to hear about some prosecutions in these cases. Especially where children are injured or killed because some idiot adult doesn't have the sense to lock up their weapon. This should be a serious crime. In some places it's not.
- Require the registration of all firearms.: This is one that mystifies me. So many of the "bad guys with guns" bought those guns legally before they were a "bad guy" but the "good guys" had no reliable way of knowing whether they owned a gun or not. Stupid.
- Stop selling military grade weapon systems to individuals: Another work in progress. Some states have moved in the right direction here. It's controversial to be sure.
I think progress is being made but the journey toward a safer society will be a long one.
Part of the problem is all the vitriol in the discussion about the subject. And I believe that one of the things driving all that, and progress on practically every other subject, is money. Regulating firearms (or destroying the Second Amendment, as some would say) is not the biggest threat to freedom in the U.S. Heck, it doesn't even make my top ten list. The Citizen's United ruling is the single biggest threat to our democracy and no number of guns will blunt its influence. If there's one thing we need, it's a Constitutional amendment that says that dollars and companies are not citizens. Until we have that, government will not represent the will of the electorate.