Time to talk about reasonable regulations

Published 10:33 am Thursday, December 3, 2015

Below is a portion of a column of mine that published following a mass shooting in South Carolina and the murder of two journalists on live TV. Unfortunately, it’s relevant yet again. I am an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment and a gun owner, but something has to change.

On average, shootings that left four or more people wounded or dead occurred on a daily basis in the United States this year. “Including the worst mass shooting of the year, which unfolded horrifically on Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif., a total of 462 people have died and 1,314 have been wounded in such attacks this year, many of which occurred on streets or in public settings,” the New York Times reported.

Following another gun-related tragedy, it’s prudent to ask: Would tougher gun regulations have prevented this horror?

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

It’s the same question we ask every time something of this magnitude happens, and the list of mass shootings is growing longer. Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine and now San Bernardino. Those are the big ones we remember, but there have been many others.

It’s reasonable to assume that a world without guns would be less violent. But we don’t live in a world without guns — and we never will. Regardless of your views on gun control, there’s no getting around the Second Amendment. Guns always have been, and always will be, part of our country.

I’m a gun owner. I grew up with guns and have enjoyed shooting ever since getting my first .22 rifle. I hunt with my guns, but that’s not the only reason I own them. I also have them in my house as a security measure.

But even for the most ardent supporter of gun rights, it’s sometimes difficult to form a cohesive defense when those rights are challenged following a mass shooting. We simply come back to: it’s the Second Amendment. We don’t have much else beyond that. As long as the Bill of Rights means something in this country, that position will be enough.

But that doesn’t mean reasonable restrictions on gun ownership don’t make sense. Already, courts have decided that the Second Amendment isn’t a blanket protection to own any type of gun. Fully automatic firearms are more heavily regulated than shotguns.

Most gun owners see that as a reasonable measure. Anyone wanting to own a fully automatic weapon must register with the federal government. There’s not been much outcry about that, even among gun rights supporters.

So would our country benefit from tougher regulations on all types of guns? Would we be safer? Probably. If all gun owners were required to attend a training session, there would probably be fewer gun accidents.

If all guns had some type of device that allowed them to only be fired by their owners (so-called “smart guns”), there would less gun violence because criminals, in theory, wouldn’t be able to use stolen firearms.

If those with mental illness were kept from purchasing firearms, there would probably be fewer fatal shooting incidents.

The list of so-called “common sense” regulations is long, and most would likely reduce gun violence.

They may not have prevented a couple from murdering 14 people in California Wednesday, but if those regulations prevent just one death a year they are worth pursuing. At the very least, can we as a nation have a conversation about gun regulations? Can we explore the possibility of saving lives with common-sense rules that make it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to own firearms?

If we can’t, we are saying that we’re OK with what happened in San Bernardino.