May 10, 2023
Steps toward and away from the brink
In mid-April, I referred to several shooting incidents which seemed to represent the ultimate in our firearm insanity. Almost immediately it became clear that it could, and did, get worse.
There were more mass shootings in public places. They happen so often that any list of them is almost immediately out of date. According to The Gun Violence Archive, there have been 208 this year. This must stop. As an email from Gabby Giffords put it, “Americans should not have to live in fear of a mass shooting when they are going about their Saturdays, shopping, running errands, and living their lives.”
Other incidents were, in a way, even more indicative of social breakdown because they were impulsive reactions to perceived intrusions onto the shooter’s property, yet another extreme in firearm madness. Stand-your-ground statutes and similar laws, NRA propaganda, repeated claims that criminals are all about us, and a general tendency to divide into hostile camps all help to plant the notion that one must have a gun; in short: we live in a dangerous society. That the glut of guns is a large factor in creating the danger doesn’t seem to penetrate, nor does the fact that many who own guns obviously are not competent to have them.
We cannot continue down this path.
Small steps from the brink have been taken. In Washington Governor Inslee has signed HB 1240, which generally prohibits “the manufacture, importation, distribution, selling, and offering for sale of assault weapons,” although it will not prohibit possession by those who already have such guns, and House Bill 1143 “requiring a permit to purchase firearms, firearms safety training, and a 10-day waiting period, prohibiting firearms transfers prior to completion of a background check, and updating and creating consistency in firearms transfer and background check procedures.”
In Michigan, the Governor signed bills that will “create universal background checks for all firearms and mandate safe storage requirements around children.”
In Colorado, two “new laws will raise the age to buy any firearm from 18 to 21 and install a three-day waiting period between the purchase and receipt of a gun. A third will strengthen the state’s red flag law . . . .”
This state-by-state movement is important, but we need legislation at the federal level.
Following the most recent mass shooting, in Allen, Texas, President Biden made the case:
Too many families have empty chairs at their dinner tables. Republican Members of Congress cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug. Tweeted thoughts and prayers are not enough.
Once again I ask Congress to send me a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Enacting universal background checks. Requiring safe storage. Ending immunity for gun manufacturers. I will sign it immediately. We need nothing less to keep our streets safe.
17. https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/14/politics/governor-gretchen-whitmer-gun-violence-prevention- michigan/index.html
18. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/colorado-governor-signs-gun-control-bills-after-massacre_n_ 644bf673e4b03c1b88cd0d3c