“The Right to be Safe from Gun Violence”

Within hours of the Obama-Biden plan to strengthen gun safety, Rep. Shea-Porter voiced her support.

Shea-Porter’s decision to stand with the president has quickly been vindicated by the people of New Hampshire, who overwhelmingly support the core elements of it.

As of this writing, the rest of NH’s federal delegation, and its governor, have not responded to the Obama-Biden plan. The president has made it clear that for this to work, the people need to demand it of their public servants.  He’s even provided an easy tool to do so.

Here is Shea-Porter’s bi-weekly column expanding on her support for the plan.

Time for Action

As I write this column, the news is covering still another shooting, this time on a college campus. We will learn who was involved, who was standing where when it happened, who witnessed it, who was hurt, who the hurt people’s friends and families are. Students—reportedly 10,000 students attend the college—will say how terrified they were. And then…the story of this shooting will be dropped from the news cycle, only to be replaced by another shooting story. And Americans will wonder why we can’t seem to stop the violence. Or can we?

When the children and teachers were executed in a mass murder at an elementary school, right before Christmas, while we were talking about love and faith and family and peace, everyone thought that this time, politicians would take action. It did seem for awhile that we had reached our breaking point, and that we would finally be ready to pass responsible gun legislation that would give us both the freedom to hunt and protect our families and the freedom to go about our daily lives without fear of being gunned down in still another act of violence. There was encouraging talk about passing legislation as quickly as possible, and President Obama did sign some Executive Orders with the families of the murdered six and seven year olds and the slain staff in the room.

The fight was already ugly, but that’s where it got uglier. The head of the National Rifle Association said that President Obama was “attacking firearms and ignoring children.” There was a sea of outrage that President Obama had children at the event. Children were at the site of the massacre—I think it is appropriate that children who knew it happened and wrote about it should be in the room when grownups say we are going to try to stop this from happening again to children, or anyone else. The NRA leadership also dragged the President’s own children into the fray, as they falsely warned that President Obama was going to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.

Some in Congress were upset at even the mildest suggestions, such as doctors asking if there are guns in the house so they can talk about safety issues involved when there are children in the residence. Doctors ask if somebody smokes around children. They talk about being safe and careful with candles and stoves, but apparently, they should not ask about a huge killer of children—guns.

It’s time to stop the fighting and work on the solutions here. It is time to stop bowing to special interests and yes, the money they bring to campaigns, and talk about how we are going to protect both the right to have guns for sport and for protection, and the right to be safe from gun violence.

The easiest step should be to require background checks for gun sales. This means gun sales involving most private sales also. The majority of Americans support this plan. We also need to make sure that critical information is available when there is a background check. Records right now are too often incomplete, and do not identify a buyer’s criminal history or a dangerous mental illness.

It is time to end high-capacity magazine sales. It used to be that citizens had a chance to get away from a shooter when he had to stop to reload. But with high-capacity magazines, the killer can just keep firing away a lot longer, murdering many more innocent folks. Hunters do not need to fire 30 rounds. Neither do citizens exercising their right to defend themselves. I support banning magazines holding more than ten rounds. This will help law enforcement and the public to disarm a mass shooter, and it will give people a better chance to escape a madman.

I support President Obama’s call to close loopholes in gun trafficking laws, and to beef up law enforcement in communities. Let’s also step up mental health services, and work together to encourage a reduction of violence in video games and television and movies. All of these ideas should be the easiest to enact. There is another step, an assault weapon ban, that will require more political debate, but these ideas listed here are common-sense ideas that should have no political test of courage attached to them. Can’t we at least get this done now? Let’s get it done now. It already has been a long and deadly wait.

(Reposted from birch paper.)

4 Responses to “The Right to be Safe from Gun Violence”

  1. hannah January 30, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    Background checks will only eliminate creatures of habit. Most mass murderers are, like suicides, one-off events.
    What would be more effective would be to prohibit the manufacture, importation and sale of weapons and amunition designed to kill people. Reducing fear-mongering, especially by public officials, might help, as well.
    In addition, we might do well to address the perennial search for some group or class of people to segregate, either in the name of “protection” or to exclude them from normal intercourse. Targeting the whole nation by setting up “secure” borders isn’t going to help.
    American exceptionalism is a curse, not an attribute.

  2. JonnyBBad January 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    It takes courage Dean, not a finger in the air approach. Gabby Gifford has it. Unannounced she appeared at this morning’s Senate Hearings.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/01/video-gabby-giffordss-incredible-appeal-to-congress-on-gun-control/272670/

    A Senate hearing on gun-control regulations Wednesday began on an emotionally charged note, as former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, perhaps the nation’s most famous survivor of gun violence, made an unannounced appearance. Here’s the full text of her statement:

    Thank you for inviting me here today. This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans. Speaking is difficult, but I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying. Too many children. We must do something. It will be hard but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you.
    Giffords, who was shot in 2011 in Tucson, has taken on a visible role as an anti-gun campaigner as her arduous recovery from a serious head wound moves on. In January, she visited Newtown, Connecticut, and met with the families of victims of the massacre there.

  3. BobRobertson January 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    Has anyone checked to see how many weapons used in crimes were bought without background checks? Every legal weapon made has a serial number and is tracked every time it changes hands through a licensed dealer.

  4. tchair January 31, 2013 at 8:24 am #

    2 questions
    1 Should anyone have a firearm ?
    2 Should anyone own any kind of weapon?
    No to 1 or 2 and you believe in GUN CONTROL

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