Andy Parker, the grieving father of murdered TV reporter Alison Parker, says he has a mission: to fight for reasonable changes in gun laws, such as mandatory background checks on all gun buyers.
Good luck, Mr. Parker, and more power to you. However, it’s going to be an uphill battle. If legislators refused to tighten gun laws after the slaughter of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, they’re not going to do anything about gun safety after the death of a TV reporter, her cameraman and the wounding of another woman at the scene. The bitter, jealous madman obtained his two Glock guns legally, we’re told, and it’s claimed he passed a background check. (He obviously shouldn’t have.)
As always, gun-rights absolutists are ready to shoot down any attempts at law changes. They and the spineless legislators who refuse to heed their constituents will likely note the killings in Virginia are not relevant to gun laws or the lack of them. So why should Mr. Parker or anybody else bring up the issue again? It’s because every senseless murder should cause us all to re-examine our laws – or lack of them – when it comes to gun excess and gun access.
After the Sandy Hook massacre of innocents, polls showed up to 90 percent of Americans, many of them members of the National Rifle Association, were in favor of strict background checks on all gun purchasers, including those who go to gun shows. Nothing was done. Cowed legislators caved in to lobbyists’ demands rather than enact constituents’ wishes.
Once again, we will hear the usual talking points from the NRA and other gun-rights groups, as well as from many thoughtful people who do have some well-reasoned arguments and who do make some good points, as follows:
- Guns don’t kill people; people do.
- Crazy, sadistic people will obtain guns illegally, no matter how many laws are passed.
- If current laws were strictly enforced, that would take care of the problem.
- Many major cities that have tight gun-control measures still have high homicide rates.
- The way to stop crazed killers is to be sure you’re armed and then shoot them first.
- Gun ownership is an ironclad constitutional guarantee.
- The real aim of any proposed gun laws is to eventually take our hunting guns away, leaving us unarmed, helpless.
Many of those talking points are true – to a point. Basically, what gun lobbyists argue is there is nothing we can do about homicides. They will always happen. Of course they will. So, some argue, then why pass a law if it won’t stop all gun deaths? Come on now, stop and think, does any law prevent everything?
Here are the points those lobbyists constantly miss – or ignore:
- Guns do kill people, all the time. More guns, more murders.
- With reasonable laws like background checks, fewer people with a history of mental illness will be able to get guns. But, yes, of course there will always be twisted desperadoes who will steal guns or use homemade bombs to wreak their cruel havoc.
- Yes, by all means, current laws should be stringently enforced, but new laws should be added to keep mentally disturbed people from accessing guns all too easily, through loopholes and other means. And, absolutely, access to mental-illness treatment must be improved. More people must learn the symptoms of someone about to slip into violence.
- Higher murder rates in crime areas do not necessarily correlate to a failure in tighter gun laws. There are many variables to help explain those grim statistics.
- Having all citizens become impromptu pistol-packing guardians of public safety is a dangerous notion, like sparks near kegs of dynamite.
- The Second Amendment (right to bear arms) is not an absolute right, just as the First Amendment (freedom of speech) is not absolute. There are and always have been legally imposed restrictions on all constitutional rights.
- A plot to take hunting guns away? Nonsense.
Gun-rights absolutists always insist new laws like universal background checks are useless because murders by madmen will continue. They refuse to acknowledge reasonable new laws could certainly diminish the number of killings. Such laws have been stunningly effective in other countries, including Australia, which passed strict gun laws and a massive gun buy-back program 20 years ago after a hideous massacre by a fiend using a semi-automatic weapon killed 35 people. Gun-rights absolutists stubbornly refuse to give credence to good statistics from other countries. Well, check out the positive facts; they’re online in abundance.
Sad to say, gun lobbyists in Australia are now trying their best to whittle away at the laws that have been passed. Meantime, here in America, grieving parents and millions of others are asking legislators for reasonable laws – the banning of automatic assault weapons and mandatory background checks. Is that too much to ask?
Mr. Parker, good luck. Keep trying, just as the parents of the murdered school children keep trying and the loved ones of the movie-theater victims keep trying. We should all keep trying, holding “politicians’ feet to the fire,” as you said, Mr. Parker. No law is perfect, but reasonable laws to diminish gun deaths – murders and suicides – are long overdue. Are you listening, legislators?