“It is a complex social problem, a solution which cannot be legislated. Democrats and Republicans alike have oversimplified the issue…”
I have been an NRA member for more than 10 years and am a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment and the right of Americans to bear arms. But the gun violence and indiscriminate shootings we have witnessed from Columbine to the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida demand that we take certain measures to ensure the protection, first and foremost, of our children.
But the intransigence on both sides of the political spectrum cannot continue. Steps have to be taken that will protect our schools as well as other venues from becoming targets of those who have no right to have a weapon of any kind.
I am disappointed in the failure of the NRA to put forth proposals that will limit the sale/ownership of any weapon, let alone military-type automatic weapons with large-capacity magazines, to those under the age of 21 or those who have discernible mental health issues, a history of juvenile criminal activity, or other social problems. Yes, ownership of a weapon is a constitutional right, but there are social and behavioral responsibilities attendant to gun ownership.
How is it that an 18-year-old, or anyone else for that matter, who has evidenced some mental instability, has had trouble in school and elsewhere, has threatened to shoot schoolmates and others, and who law enforcement was aware of, is allowed to purchase not one but several weapons, some of which are military-style weapons? Where does it say that an individual’s right to gun ownership trumps the risk to others?
And where are the links/coordination between local governments, our educational system, mental health professionals, social organizations, and law enforcement that will close the gaps and improve the chances that someone like Cruz will be identified in advance, receive the appropriate medical and psychological attention, and be precluded from owning or possessing firearms? I do not have an answer to the question. It is a complex social problem, a solution which cannot be legislated. Democrats and Republicans alike have oversimplified the issue: Democrats ridiculously arguing that gun control will take care of the problem and Republicans blocking any move that they believe would impinge on 2nd Amendment freedoms.
And what about the NRA? Aside from opposing any legislation to restrict sales of guns, e.g., raising the eligible age for sales of all firearms to 21, the NRA has been opposed to any changes whatsoever, be it limits on magazine capacity, bump stocks, etc. Where is the social responsibility? Rather than being active in proposing solutions, many of which are social issues, the NRA is plainly and clearly being obstructionist, much I fear to its long-term detriment. Witness the recent deluge of corporate America’s cancellation of NRA sponsorships.
And where are the initiatives designed to mitigate the social issues that have led to the rise in gun violence? Whose responsibility is it? We all point the finger at Congress. But the problem is bigger than Congress, and societal problems cannot all be solved legislatively. What about film makers, producers, and actors in Hollywood who repeat calls for gun control measures while rejecting calls to limit violence in films and video games?
The solution will be complex, and it will take time and a shift in our value system. One of the oft spoken-about but least addressed problems is the breakdown of the family unit. And this does not refer exclusively to the absence of a mother or father or to a particular race. It means simply the failure of parents to parent. Parents need to be taught how to parent. They need to be aware of their children’s activities, state of mind, and be there as counselors, champions, and disciplinarians.
Raising children should not be a trial-and-error proposition; the times are much different than they were 20, 30, or 40 years ago, when life was simpler and the challenges fewer. And in our communities, it is critical that local governments, police, social organizations, school systems, mental health officials and other resource entities organize to formulate strategies to develop and implement programs at the local level, absent of or in coordination with federal government initiatives, to deal with this national crisis. It takes a village and needs to start at the grassroots level. The future of our society and the republic depend on it.