The right to own guns is enshrined in our Constitution. Efforts to completely ban guns violate the essence of our republican democracy, and there are numerous legitimate reasons for Americans to own firearms, including personal protection and hunting.

That being said, Americans in general have agreed to some basic restrictions when it comes to firearms. The 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Ban placed restrictions on the purchase and ownership of semi-automatic rifles, and NWA firearms like machine guns and short-barreled shotguns remain heavily restricted by the federal government.

There are, however, some apparent gaps in our gun laws. For instance, purchasing a gun at one of hundreds of gun shows hosted around the country often does not require a background check. One popular solution is a permit-to-purchase (or PTP) system where individuals would need to acquire a permit before buying a firearm, including purchases made at gun shows or between private individuals.

Acquiring a permit would require an individual to visit a local law enforcement office, get fingerprinted, submit a photo and pass a background check. The permit, once issued, would be good for five years, and buyers wouldn’t need to pass another background check during that five-year period. PTP systems have resulted in a reduction in firearm-related deaths, including suicides (which make up overwhelming majority of gun-related deaths), in several of the states in which they’ve been implemented.

The connection between domestic violence and homicide is well-documented — women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than anyone else. Several states have implemented laws that restrict gun ownership by individuals with domestic violence convictions. For instance, Colorado passed a law that requires people who are subject to domestic violence restraining orders to turn in their firearms. (Oklahoma judges have the discretion to implement a similar restriction on VPOs.)

Of course, laws don’t matter much to criminals, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be passed and enforced. Not every law is such a significant deterrent that criminals simply throw up their hands and move on. It’s sophomoric to assume that individuals who wish to perpetrate acts of mass violence would, if restricted from legally acquiring their desired arsenal, somehow enter into the world of illegal arms dealing. 

Unfortunately, the gun control discussion at the Congressional level is heavily influenced by the National Rifle Association and the significant efforts of gun lobbyists on one side, and often ill-informed activists on the other.

Perhaps the most contentious element of the gun control debate is whether proposed gun control measures would actually prevent so-called mass shootings (loosely defined as an event where four or more individuals are indiscriminately killed). These mass shootings by nature, and their perpetrators, are almost impossible to predict.

So, if so-called “common sense” gun control measures wouldn’t prevent mass shootings, at least not all of them, then why should Congress pursue them?

That’s simple. The majority of Americans killed with guns aren’t murdered during mass shootings. And completely preventing them is all but impossible, especially considering our gun ownership freedoms in the Bill of Rights. But implementing regulations like PTP systems or restricting gun possession in domestic violence cases have demonstrated the number of homicides and suicides can be reduced. That’s something every American should support.

 

 - The Norman Transcript 

This Week's Circulars