Gun violence and gun related deaths have been on the rise over the last number of years. In 2014 in America there were around 12,500 gun related deaths (not counting suicides). This year, there are already around 16,000 gun related deaths and we still have several months of the year left. In Louisville specifically, there were 41 gun related deaths in 2014, this year there are already 155 gun related deaths. One cannot look at these growing numbers and refuse to act to see better gun regulation and steps to save lives.
Those against gun reform argue law abiding citizens should not have their freedom to bear arms restricted in any way. However, not all citizens are law abiding, and as a society we need methods to protect ourselves and ensure those who are not law abiding citizens do not have access to guns with which they can kill others. Also, those who argue against gun reform ignore the fact that in other areas of life we restrict access to certain functions. Think about driving for example, one must study, pass a written test, and pass a road test to obtain a license. We accept this as a society because we all know how dangerous it is to have people driving without knowing how to drive, and we also need a method to keep track of drivers and hold them accountable if needed.
This same logic applies to guns. Guns can actually be even more deadly than cars in the hands of a wrong person. If we care about saving lives, we need to do everything we can to ensure guns do not find their way into the wrong hands. If law abiding citizens truly want a gun for self protection, then just like getting a license, they should be happy to jump through any and all hoops to be part of ensuring that we stay safe as a society.
Yet, sadly not enough action being taken to enact gun reform laws that will protect people in our cities. In Kentucky alone, there are laws that make it hard, if not impossible, for cities to pass meaningful gun reform laws. This is an issue we should address at the Federal level so people in all states are protected. If elected Senator, I will fight for restrictions and regulations similar to these ideas that others have brought forward.
Banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Assault weapons and high capacity magazines are tools of war and should not be something that the average citizen has access to. These were once banned at the Federal level, but the ban expired in 2004 and it is time that we do something about this. As a Senator I would support this type of bill and introduce one myself if one is not already on the floor because I believe this is an easy step we can take that will immediately save many lives.
Requiring a gun license. Kentucky has joined at least 14 other states that do not require a license or permit to carry and possess a gun. Just like driving a car requires a license, carrying a gun should require a license as well. This allows the state to ensure that people carrying guns have been vetted, and to follow up with the owner in cases of gun violence.
Gun safety course. Everyone looking to purchase a gun should be required to go through a gun safety course that teaches them how to properly use, store, and care for a gun. This will help prevent accidental deaths caused by misuse of guns and will also ensure owners know how to store and secure guns so that family and friends do not have access.
Comprehensive background checks. These would include not only criminal background checks, which many states already do, but comprehensive checks that include mental health and more. I believe that this can be done while protecting patient privacy, such as having alerts that block someone from purchasing a gun, without showing the seller all the details of the issue. Many gun violence incidents have involved people with mental health concerns who should not have had a gun in the first place.
Waiting periods. Waiting periods may allow people looking to purchase guns some space if the gun purchase was an impulsive decision meant to harm oneself or others. Waiting periods would also allow for fully comprehensive background checks to take place.
Interviews. This step has been implemented in Massachusetts and requires that those applying for a gun license are interviewed by a police officer. Having an interview requirement adds a helpful step where someone purchasing a gun can be evaluated to ensure the decision is not impulsive and that the person understands what they are doing and the responsibilities.
Steps such as these are vital to the conversation around guns in America. Massachusetts has set an example of the type of gun reform we should be seeking to have throughout our country. While steps such as these will slow down the process to purchase a gun, I would challenge all law abiding citizens to appreciate that these laws keep us safe and do not restrict their ability to obtain a gun once they have completed all required steps.