The shooting earlier this month of Democratic U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona that killed six people and wounded 13 others illustrates clearly that common sense gun control is needed, but I heard a brief and interesting debate on Saturday from the chair of the Michigan Democratic Party’s Hunting, Fishing, and Gun Ownership Caucus, Jim Pedersen, that may shed some new light on the issue.
The Democratic Party has a big tent, and many Democrats are avid sportsmen who strongly support the Second Amendment. In fact, many Democrats have been endorsed by the NRA and given an "A rating,” such as former Vermont Governor and Democratic Presidential Candidate Howard Dean.
Pedersen’s point is that we lose voters with a knee jerk reaction to shootings like the one in Arizona, and I think he may be right. We should at least have the debate. He also thinks the sale of multiple, 30+ round magazines that the Arizona shooter used should not be banned because people already have them. I part company with him there, but some of his positions make sense.
We know a few basic facts, and it’s far too easy for mentally unstable people to get handguns. There are controls and restrictions on the 1st Amendment, so I can see no reason not to have some commons sense restrictions on something as deadly as a gun.
Every year in this country guns kill more 30,000 people, and 70,000 more people are shot and injured. Gun zealots to make the false claim that allowing more adults to carry concealed weapons significantly reduces crime in America, but that myth has been debunked by peer reviewed studies. The opportunity for a law-abiding gun owner to use a gun in a socially desirable manner--against a criminal during the commission of a crime--will occur, for the average gun owner, perhaps once or never in a lifetime. It is a rare event. Other regular citizens with guns, who are sometimes tired, angry, drunk, or afraid, and who are not trained in dispute resolution, have lots of opportunities for inappropriate gun uses.
Dean said guns and hunting are part of a way of life in Vermont, as they are here in Michigan and elsewhere.
“But I don't think any Vermonter or gun owners anywhere can argue against common sense changes to our background check system to make our communities safer and more secure,” Dean said in a press release.Groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns are proposing common sense changes. They have a two-part goal. First, we already have laws that make it illegal for guns to be sold to felons, drug abusers or the mentally ill. The problem is that states and federal agencies are not required to make sure these prohibited purchasers are included in the background check database.
Second, they say it’s time to stop the sales of guns without a background check at all. They say right now, anyone can go to a gun show and purchase as many guns as they want; no questions asked, no background check, nothing. It seems like common sense to fix these two loopholes and make America safer from illegal gun sales. It in no way infringes on the Second Amendment.
Hundreds of guns bought in Arizona through this loophole make their way to Mexico to help drug cartels destabilize the Mexican Government. This is not only a threat to the people of Mexico. When loopholes in our laws allow drug cartels in Mexico to stockpile guns, it is also a threat to the United States.
The Michigan Democratic Party is holding its Winter convention on Feb. 12 in Cobo Hall, and the Hunting, Fishing, and Gun Ownership Caucus is meeting at 8 a.m.