Gun deaths are not inevitable

Gun Rights

“Per capita gun deaths in the U.S. are exponentially higher than other nations. Is the difference that we, as a people, are that much more susceptible to mental illness? Or is it that we have the most liberal gun laws in the world?”
~ David Axelrod

Innocent school children shot to death, once again. This time it was not Texas; it happened in Tennessee. I have children and grandchildren in both states.

Why did it happen? Are Americans (or Tennesseans or Texans) just more violent or crazy, the NRA position? Most Georgia House members agree, getting them an “A” NRA rating, plus campaign funding.

Does Trump believe more guns will cause fewer shootings, the NRA “good guy/bad guy” totally false talking point? Or is he just beholden to the special interests and scared of one issue voters?

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Well, do you remember the narcissistic NYC reality star who in 2016 promised to “drain the swamp”? Trump, now under indictment for a dirty deal, also received $30 million from the NRA for his campaign.

Pro-gun newsletters declare “gun grabbers” are coming to confiscate our guns and must be stopped. But per polls, gun owners don’t all support the NRA extremist position. I don’t. Many others would not if they did not listen to the right-wing NRA/Fox false propaganda about gun grabbers and our existing laws being just fine if they were enforced. With family members who were FBI employees, local police officers and prison guards, I guarantee you that lazy cops are not the problem!

The AMA stated gun violence is a growing public health issue. The number of gun deaths is currently over 40,000 annually, more per capita than any other democracy.

I have always thought that there’s a middle ground on guns. Reasonable limits can be placed on guns, while still permitting some personal firearms. Frankly, it’s impossible to just take away 400 million guns (up from 90 million when I graduated college). However, we can control who owns them so that they are not accessible to those most likely to misuse them.

Congress could pass stronger laws to:

*Establish an accurate national gun sale database;
*Do thorough universal background checks, including at gun shows (now exempt) with reasonable waiting periods;
*Stop criminals, the mentally unbalanced, drunks, druggies, and other dangerous people from gun ownership;
*Prevent gun sales to people on “no fly” and watch lists;
*Stop private ownership of assault rifles like the one used in Tennessee, and elsewhere;
*Prohibit the sale of high capacity magazines;
*Require carry permits, stopping concealed carry;
*Increase taxes on guns/ammunition to compensate victims and offset law enforcement costs;
*Raise the age to purchase firearms to 21 so that a child who can’t buy wine also can’t buy a gun; and
*Require guns to be under lock and key, making parents legally responsible if a teenager uses their guns to kill others.

We should all know by now that prayer is not enough; our most religious states are our most violent. Neither is loosening gun control, the knee-jerk reaction of Southern legislatures like that of Georgia, promoting even more shooting deaths while incorrectly citing Second Amendment rights (which are only for state militias).

No one says it better than Broward County Florida Sheriff Steve Israel, “What about the rights of these students? What about the rights of young kids who go to schools with book bags and pencils? Don’t they have the right to be protected by the United States government, to the best of our ability?”

Many of the above measures have the support of most Americans. But many national and state elected officials are cowards. They know the truth about gun control but will never admit it. Tell your elected officials to stop taking lobbyist money and finally do something to control gun violence. Or vote them out of office.

Jack Bernard is the former Director of Health Planning for Georgia. He has served 4 terms on two Georgia Boards of Health.

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