assault weapons

Common Sense vs. Politics on Gun Control

Common Sense vs. Politics on Gun Control

                        Robert A. Levine

There appears to be great hoopla among politicians in Washington over the new proposed gun control bill which will likely become law on a bipartisan basis. Unfortunately, it accomplishes very little because Republicans remain afraid of the gun lobby and the NRA. While it may put a crimp in the ability of 18 to 21 year olds to obtain guns instantly, they will still be able to get guns after an extended background check. The ‘red flag’ law may be of some value, but will depend on domestic partners, relatives or neighbors reporting someone as unsuitable to possess weapons. People may be reluctant to report individuals to the police because of repercussions if the weapons are not taken away or are returned after a certain period.

It is clear that the best way to prevent mass shootings is to ban assault weapons from the general public. While a case can be made for possession of pistols in the home for self-defense and rifles for hunting, there is absolutely no reason why civilians should be allowed to possess assault weapons or extended magazines. Assault weapons are weapons of war and large magazines allow more bullets to be shot at a faster rate without reloading. Why aren’t these weapons purposefully engineered for mass killings and quick killings during wartime banned for civilian use.

We all know why. Pure politics. The NRA and gun lobby gives campaign funds and advertises for those who support the easy purchase of assault weapons and advertises against those who want to make possession of assault weapons more difficult. During the ten years that an assault weapon ban was in force, from 1994 to 2004, mass killings were decreased, rising again when the ban was allowed to lapse. The initial ban on assault weapons was supported by Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter and received bipartisan backing in Congress.

Common sense tells us that if assault weapons and large magazines were unavailable to civilians, mass killings would decrease. America is the only developed nation in the world that allows possession of assault weapons by civilians, and gun deaths in America exceed those of any ten developed nations combined. The two major causes of death among young people are gun deaths and automobile accidents. It must also be emphasized that at the time the Second Amendment was written, assault weapons did not exist. The Founding Fathers relied on common sense when writing the Constitution and it is likely that the Second Amendment would have been altered if assault weapons had been invented by that time.

The goal of those in this nation who truly want to stop mass killings should be the complete elimination of assault weapons and large magazines in civilian hands. Polls have shown that the majority of the population agrees. Unfortunately, Republicans who refuse to ban assault weapons either lack common sense or are so dependent on support from the NRA and gun lobbyists, or are afraid of them, that they will not act in an appropriate manner to keep assault weapons out of civilian hands.

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Pro-Life Hypocrisy

Pro-Life Hypocrisy

            Robert A. Levine

There seems to be a pattern of beliefs associated with those who are so-called pro-lifers. They are against abortion as they believe the procedure takes a life even if it is done prior to the fetus’ viability. Yet once a child is born they do not mind if it is killed by a crazed gunman or someone seeking publicity or attention by killing children. The same people who are pro-life are also pro-guns and want gun rights in this country to be expanded even though gun deaths in America are higher than in any other nation in the world. For the most part, those who are vehemently against abortion are vehemently pro-guns.

They do not see any reason why the possession of assault weapons by civilians should be curtailed, even though these weapons were designed primarily for maximal killing on the battlefield. Their mantra has been “guns don’t kill, people do.” Of course, if people did not have guns, they couldn’t use them to kill innocents. The pro-life adherents generally don’t want enhanced background checks for people buying guns, age limits on the purchasing of guns, or licensing of guns. They see no reason why laws should prohibit the carrying of guns in public and it appears as if the conservative Supreme Court may go along with this idea.

Why should America be such an outlier among all the developed nations in the world, with more guns than people and more gun deaths and mass killings than all the European nations and Japan combined? Countries that are most similar to America like Australia and Canada have strict gun regulations. Common sense and rationality should show Americans that our gun laws need to be more restrictive. And the majority of Americans and perhaps even gun owners agree with this. But not the most ardent pro-lifers.

But aside from guns, pro-lifers in general do not want to help families properly care for children after they are born. They do not want to increase the availability of health care for poor families, including post-partum care for mothers and babies. They do not want federally subsidized day care to allow mothers to work. They are against food assistance for poor families. They are against spending more money on education, both K-12 and college. In fact, they are usually against any increased social spending by the federal or state governments, as increased spending can lead to increased taxes.

These interconnected ideas- pro-life, pro gun, decreased social spending, decreased taxes- are all part of the conservative agenda in America. Conservatives claim to favor individual rights over government regulation, but make an exception for pregnant women. As far as women who become pregnant and do not want the child for various reasons, the conservatives expect state and federal governments and the courts to force women to carry their pregnancies to term. They refuse to acknowledge the contradiction between their views regarding individual rights and government laws and regulations where women’s bodies are concerned. If one was truly pro-life, gun control and government assistance for poor children would be part of conservative policy prescriptions. Life does not begin and end in the womb.

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