I wish to comment on Annie Capestany’s letter in a recent edition. She is absolutely right that the fight for sensible gun legislation must continue.
I am very disappointed that the Toomey-Manchin Amendment did not have the support of the NRA and the support necessary to pass the Senate. Forty percent of all firearms transfers are private.
The federal government is currently prohibited from retaining the information used for NICS checks in dealer sales. I can’t think of one good reason why the NICS checks should not be expanded to private transfers so long as the same prohibition on the retention of information applies.
However, when approaching a difficult problem like mass shootings we need to take an analytical approach and not allow politics to interfere. Once you allow politics to rear its ugly head nothing gets done and this is what we saw last week on the Hill.
So I have to take issue with those who purposefully inject age, race and gender into the debate. It’s simply inappropriate and counterproductive to insinuate that “older, white, Republican men” are somehow part of the problem.
If one examines the race of mass shooters white and Hispanic males are underrepresented whereas Black and Asian males are overrepresented. See Fullman, Aronsen & Pan, Mother Jones (Feb. 27, 2013).
But the fact is gun violence has nothing to do with age, race, gender, political affiliation or demographic diversity. So when the entire stale, pale, male, Republican population finally dies off the problem will still be with us.
One universal characteristic that nearly all mass shooters do share, however, is mental illness.
I don’t mean to stigmatize the mentally ill because not all are dangerous to others. But Holmes, Seung-Hui Cho, Lanza and Loughner were all crazier than loons. We need to get people such as these into the NICS system but many states (e.g., California, Massachusetts and Vermont) are still not cooperating.
President Obama has announced that he will use is executive powers to force compliance. This is a step in the right direction and I commend him for his decision.
The other practical solution to the problem is to provide better security for schools and other places where mass shootings occur. Armed security would be a deterrent and allowing teachers who are willing and properly trained to carry concealed weapons would also be advisable. But disarming the law abiding will only exacerbate the problem.