By Ana Paulina Gomez • January 01, 2013•Politics and Government
It is fair to say that, for many of us, the holidays were marred by several tragedies that took the lives of innocent people:
Dec. 12, 2012 – Jacob Tyler Roberts opened fire at a mall in Portland, Oregon, killing two people and seriously injuring another. He then killed himself.
Dec. 14, 2012 – Adam Lanza entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and killed 26 people, the majority of whom were children. He killed himself as police approached the school. Before committing this despicable act, he killed his mother.
Dec. 21, 2012 – A gunman killed three people at Juniata Valley Gospel Church in Central Pennsylvania. The gunman was shot dead by state troopers. However, three officers were injured, including one who was shot twice in the chest but survived thanks to his bulletproof vest.
Dec. 24, 2012 – William Spengler set a massive blaze in Webster, NY, that destroyed several houses, laying a trap for first responders and opening fire on a volunteer fire crew, killing two of them. He then killed himself.
Interestingly, the style of gun used by Adam Lanza, William Spengler, Jacob Tyler Roberts and James E. Homes (the infamous man who opened fire at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and injuring 58) was an AR-15 rifle. It is the civilian version of the military’s M-16 and M-4. Have you ever seen a picture of an AR-15? I think it is clear to most objective individuals that it is designed for war and very different from most shotguns, rifles, and handguns. Although AR-15 rifles are semi-automatic, they are faster than a semi-automatic handgun, and you can buy high-capacity magazines for it, which contain from 20 up to 100 bullets. And they are accessible to anyone.
As tragic as these December events were, it opened the window to have a discussion about gun-control. For example, California Senator Dianne Feinstein has stated that in 2012 she will introduce a bill to stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices.
President Obama has called on Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, to pass legislation that would close the gun show “loophole” which allows people to purchase firearms from private dealers without a background check, and to pass legislation that would limit high-ammunition clips.
Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (whom I had the honor to work for) also proposed some similar measures: to ban assault rifles; limit magazine clips to no more than 10 bullets; end the gun show loophole; end the sale of guns on the internet that are sold without background checks; and redefine mental illness in the context of gun laws (current federal laws prohibit gun sales to people with a mental illness but fails to identify what constitutes mental illness).
I support all these measures. I am not for banning all type of guns but I believe that tighter restrictions are needed. My husband and I own two handguns. I know how to use them and I enjoy going to the shooting range. We keep them in a safe location in the house and they are never loaded. Having said that, I would never consider buying an AR-15. It is a gun that it is too powerful and clearly designed – and made – for war. And I would feel more comfortable knowing that civilians don’t have access to them. Furthermore, I also believe it is not a good policy to sell clips with more than 10 bullets. I see no need for clips with 20, 30, 100 rounds. Will these measures stop all gun-related deaths? Of course not. However, I believe it will make it harder for a shooter to easily – and rapidly – commit mass murder.
We cannot stand still and be a quiet observer of this dialogue. We cannot afford to have another massive shooting like the one at Sandy Hook. Something has to be done and we can make it happen. Make your voice heard and contact your local policymakers. I will. Too many lives are at risk to sit idle.
Furthermore, once legislation is introduced, I will draft a template letter that you can print a sign asking your legislator to support it.
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