Firearms are not for everyone. My only experience with a firearm was when I fired a shotgun as a teenager. It bucked back and I got a nasty bruise on my shoulder, but I did hit the target. That experience summarizes how I feel about guns. While on the one hand, I understand and respect that we have a Second Amendment right to bear arms in order to protect ourselves and property and that there are many Americans who do enjoy gun related activities such as hunting and collection. On the other hand, from mass shootings to suicides, our lack of common-sense legislation regarding guns leads to so much preventable injury and death. More than 100,000 Americans are either killed or injured every year due to gun violence and more than half of those deaths are suicides. We need regulations to prevent military style weaponry from being used for mass murder and policies that work to prevent Americans with mental illness from taking their own lives.
Gun violence tends to take center stage in politics only after tragedy, but there is tragedy related to gun violence every day. I thought that after Newtown CT we would finally get movement on this issue with at least a ban on assault weapons, but we did not. Nor did we get any movement after Las Vegas or Pulse in Florida. While these tragedies alone should justify regulations on gun access and safety, what about the thousands of rural Americans who take their own lives by pulling the trigger?
There are other consequences of gun violence in our country that go undiscussed. Every time there is a mass shooting and thoughts and prayers go out for physical recovery, I always send my hopes for good insurance. Aside from the mental and physical trauma, individuals who suffer from gun violence face life-long financial ruin. The direct cost (Medical bills, lost wages, quality of life, trauma therapy) of gun violence goes up to $700 million per year for Americans while the indirect costs to the taxpayer makes that value grow into the hundreds of billions. Additionally, through local property taxes, existing schools are being retrofitted with fortified vestibules, windows, doors, etc. and new schools are being designed with curved hallways, safe closets, etc. Security will inevitability become the highest expense of operating our schools even though there is little to no evidence of these measures preventing shootings, while the evidence of negative effects, including trauma, on students is staggering.
I support a ban on assault weapons. We recently had federal law to this effect under The Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act which passed the Senate 52-48 and was signed into law by William Clinton in 1994. However, George W. Bush, under pressure from the gun lobby and MOC who benefit from their donations allowed this law to expire under its sunset provision in 2004. Imagine, had that law stayed in effect how many lives would have been saved. Make no mistake, gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association (NRA) care about profits. They mislead the American public to see all gun control as an attempt to infringe on their rights instead of an attempt to preserve life. If we end the undue financial influence of the gun industry, we can preserve the Second Amendment AND secure common-sense regulation as is wanted by the majority of citizens.
American citizens have already decided where they stand on gun safety and we just need policymakers not beholden to the industry to follow through on their decision. I will be that policymaker. Here are our proposals on this issue and what I will fight for.
- Allowing funding for gun violence prevention research
- Assault Weapon and high capacity magazine bans
- Background Checks for private gun sales
- Mental Illness Screening
- Requiring Gun Safety Training
- Magazine safety Locks
- Distribution Oversight to reduce straw purchasing
- Ballistic Fingerprinting
- Owner personalization that prevents theft
- Gun tracking through irremovable serial numbers