While constructive dialogue should be the first course of action when it comes to discussing America’s pressing issues, the White House and congressional members insistence on politicizing everything, including banning assault rifles and large capacity ammunition magazines, their efforts have produced the opposite result and created a firearms buying frenzy.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School rampage in Connecticut that claimed 28 lives, including 20 children, is responsible for the latest flurry of proposed gun laws set to take the legislative stage in states across the country. Much to the dismay of law-abiding firearms owners, state and federal legislators will address issues like controlling ammunition sales, tougher background checks and a gun tax to deter the latest mass murders.
Looking at the issue from a perspective of hindsight, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu’s neighbor Pima district endured the world’s attention when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head and six others were murdered, including a judge and a nine-year-old girl, during a Congress on Your Corner meeting. The 2011 Tucson mass shooting resulted in a President promising “never again.”
Sheriff Babeu says the present effort by lawmakers across the country may be well meaning, but they are going down the wrong path. “Cities with the largest gun crime problems are New York City, Chicago and Washington DC (and) all have one thing in common- the strictest gun laws.”
Even more distressing is the fact that the proposed “stricter assault” rifle ban would have little effect on such mass murders. Less than five percent of assault weapons are recovered in Pinal County, Arizona, arguably, one of the most dangerous and busy drug and human smuggling corridors in America, according to Sheriff Babeu. Nationally, the trends reveal that less than two percent of reported crimes are committed with assault weapons using fewer than three bullets. Furthermore, less than one percent of weapons recovered at crime scenes were purchased at the much talked about gun shows.
“This is not a gun issue, it’s a mental health issue,” Babeu unequivocally stated. The Sheriff continued to explain these mass-shooting incidents illustrate America’s people problem and people like Jared Loughner (Tucson), James Holmes (Colorado) and Adam Lanza (Connecticut) have a “propensity to kill.”
Currently there are more than 20,000 laws and regulations on firearms, yet none of them prevented mass killings. Criminals, mentally ill killers and terrorists do not follow laws nor will they follow any future laws inventive lawmakers try to conjure up.
Sheriff Babeu explained the best solution to protect innocent school children is placing officers in all schools. “The NRA is correct, we need a cop in every school. The Deputy or Police Officer should not simply provide armed security, yet should be a School Resource Officer (SRO). SRO’s are carefully selected officers who are trained to teach classes, mentor students, build positive relationships with students and staff and are one of the best defenses against an active shooter in a school.”
The Sheriff also highlighted that the so-called “safe school zones” are nothing more than “sitting duck zones.”
Consistent with the views of many politically appointed police chiefs, but unlike rank-and-file Law Enforcement Alliance of America police officers who do not want stricter gun laws for the law-abiding citizenry, San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne supports stricter gun control, something he made emphatically clear when he stated, “We broke the NRA.”
However, this weekend the NRA’s President, David Keene told CNN “I would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get (an) assault weapons ban through this Congress.”
A NRA press statement described disappointment in Vice President Joe Biden’s meeting last week. “We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment.” It’s worth pointing out that the NRA has seen hundreds of thousands of new members join its ranks since the Sandy Hook school shooting.
Chief Lansdowne, who plays an active role in the western region of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) association, said it may take a generation but guns will eventually be taken off the streets through new laws like Senator Diane Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban legislation. Some of the items his organization is addressing include; a ban on assault weapons, restricting high-capacity magazines, closing loopholes that allow firearm sales between private owners without background checks, and implementing much stricter background checks by using a comprehensive database.
San Diego City’s top cop focused on grandfathering a law provision contained in Senator Feinstein’s legislation that would allow current lawful firearms owners to keep their assault weapons, but said that firearms would be destroyed upon the owner’s death and the new law would no longer allow firearms to be passed down to heirs and relatives.
Those same restrictions were being debated in the New York state legislature last week. Governor Andrew Cuomo, a 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful, suggested his state’s legislature would remain in session until they come to an agreement on tougher gun regulations. “Gun control is highly political, politically contentious situation. It is polarizing,” he said describing the legislative fight in his state. However, New York State managed to pass even tougher gun restrictions that include seven-bullet capacity, assault rifles and broader background checks. The governor hastily signed the bill to prevent a gun buying frenzy.
In the coming weeks governors and lawmakers will run into a slew of statistics that highlight American’s using firearms to protect themselves. The Gun Owners of America cited a Department of Justice statistic that citizens use their weapons at least 4,000 times per day in self-defense. In response to banning larger ammunition magazines, the second largest pro-Second Amendment group pointed out that law abiding citizens often run into drug induced individuals who are not stopped with six shots. For example, last week a Georgia mother of twins emptied her handgun into a home burglar and he managed to flee the scene and drive away before law enforcement apprehended him. Or, more specifically, the “bath salts” drug that swept the country last year in which a Florida man literally ate a homeless man’s face off despite being shot multiple times by police.
Unlike many political appointees, Chief Lansdowne moved to address the mental health component that is a common denominator in many of the recent mass shootings.
“Having a national system that quickly identifies those people who are suffering from acts of violence and mental health issues,” is also key when it comes to addressing gun violence the outspoken Chief said.
Under Chief Lansdowne, San Diego Police implemented the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team or (PERT), a program that pairs a licensed mental health clinician with a law enforcement officer to respond to calls dealing with psychological issues. The hope is to address the mental health issues before a Newtown-like shooting unfolds in Lansdowne ‘s jurisdiction.
Another solution may be as simple as doing nothing. UCLA Law Professor Eugene Yolokh, a Second Amendment expert, explained it this way. “After the Sandy Hook school shooting, as well as after other shootings, those of us who are skeptical about gun controls are often asked: So what are we suggesting should be done about the shootings? If we’re not suggesting gun controls (as opposed to proposals such as allowing teachers to be armed, increased concealed carry rights outside schools, providing school guards, and the like), the argument goes, we’re not taking gun tragedies seriously. My point is simply that the right answer to “so what are we going to do about it?,” even when the “it” is horrible, is sometimes “not much.”
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court’s majority view of the right to keep and bear arms confirms in part the founding fathers’ belief that the right to bear arms was not granted by the Constitution, but was pre-existent to the document that guarantied such rights would not be infringed by the federal government.
It was commonly held that arms were necessary to resist invasion by foreign enemies, precludes the necessity of large standing armies, and to resist tyranny. The significance of the pre-Constitutional right to keep and bear arms was based upon the historic fact that kings had sought to disarm those militias or factions opposed to them to better control and enslave them.
The wisdom of the Second Amendment cannot be lost in the recent examples of Libya, Egypt, and Syria, where their governments have disarmed its citizens, except the ruling class, to prevent en-mass uprising to resist national tyranny. As a result these countries have sought arms from outside agencies like the United States. As history will attest, the United States, inter alia, provided arms and training to individuals and militias that opposed the tyranny of Qaddafi, Mubarak, and Al-Assad.
While few would suggest a debate regarding the causes and prevention of mass murders are not relevant, that dialogue, as Sheriff Babau outlined, must be inclusive of all pertinent issues, not just guns.
San Diego 6 News Broadcast: http://www.sandiego6.com/news/local/White-House-Congress-Create-Gun-Buying-Frenzy-After-Newtown-187115371.html
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