Saturday, 3 October 2015
Jon Bear Journal: How the United States Can End It's Gun Violence Crisis
Jon Bear Journal: How the U.S. Can End It's Gun Violence Crisis
I have not written a Jon Bear Journal in some time and I have several topics that I had been wanting to share. My opinions on Gun Legislation in the United States was not one of them. However, in wake of the continuing mass shootings that are happening in my country (like the one at Umpqua Community College this past week in Oregon) and the simple fact that gun fatalities occur on a daily basis in the United States kind of prioritized my thoughts and my desire to share them here and now.
I'm not going to get into the statistics on gun violence in the United States as it will have to suffice to say that deaths occur here due to gun violence more then in almost every if not every other single first world country in the World. The rate at which gun deaths occur in the United States is almost unfathomable to most other nations, but it's almost become an afterthought to the American people. Most of those nations have far, far stricter gun regulations then here in the U.S..
There is no denying that the United States has a serious problem when it comes to deaths at the hands of guns. Many of which are obtained illegally or legally without enough of a background check into the history of the person applying to own the weapon. Several U.S. states have separate gun laws that differ from one another and Federal regulation simply is not enough to prevent the daily news reports of people who die in this country because of gun violence. Paraphrasing what our president Barack Obama has stated. Something has to change!
So how does it change? What does it take? Well, it takes several things, and the most important is a collective and organized movement by people in the United States who want to see tougher gun laws. One of the challenges that we face in pushing for that is the fear that several gun owners may have that their constitutional rights to own a weapon (or bare arms) might be violated. That's a justifiable concern and unfortunately it gets ratcheted up by the term "GUN CONTROL" that has become something of a political term to define gun legislation. This is a smart move by groups like the NRA, because you here the term "CONTROL" and you feel like your power or your rights are being taken out of your own hands.
Gun Legislation advocates need to push for "GUN SAFETY" legislation and not let the term gun control dominate the conversation when it comes to changing our laws. I think that gun safety is something even gun owners can stand by more willingly then gun control. Most advocates of gun safety are not looking to take away the right to bare arms from someone. What they are looking to take away is the right to bare the kinds of arms that can mow down 20 human lives at a clip in the matter of seconds. There are assault riffles available to gun enthusiasts that have nothing to do with hunting for sport. Shooting for sport should not allow just anyone access to the kinds of weapons that can inflict severe tissue damage or allow someone to get off several rounds of ammunition in a short duration of time. These kinds of weapons need to be available in a supervised and regulated environment only.
So we need to push for better Gun Safety Laws. As the President stated, we need to make Gun Safety a single vote issue in the way that Right to Lifers vote for a candidate based on the single issue of Right to Life for example. The Gun Safety coalition also needs a face that can capture the attention of the American Public. With the President's final term coming to an end this January I think it would be possibly the most defining aspect of his Presidential legacy if he or his wife were to become that public face of the Gun Safety coalition. We need someone as the face of the push for better gun safety measures who is not just highly visible because of their celebrity (even though that helps) but also highly visible because of their political clout. The backing of celebrities will help but a politician or group of politicians who the American people can rally around is vital to promote Gun Safety and keep the issues in the public eye.
Like anything in the U.S. it needs money and votes. And we all know money talks in politics. Part of the biggest fear for politicians who might secretly wish for stronger gun safety legislation is losing the financial support of powerful lobbies like the NRA (National Riffle Association). For many politicians, if you lose the NRAs money you're going to lose an election. The Gun Safety coalition is going to have a long and tough fight on it's hands to build up enough clout and enough capital to even come close to competing with a group like the NRA.
This is not a short term battle or something that will change overnight in the United States. There are several sensitive issues that effect both good people who worry about the violation of their rights and only wish to be responsible gun owners and good people who's lives are devastated either personally or by extension because of the loss of loved ones to gun violence.
Something does have to change and it starts with a voice. Enough voices must grow into a chorus. We have to make ourselves heard. We need to do it through social media, through media and at the voting booth. All with the goal of someday making the United States a safer place to live. Because out of that which was promised to us by our forefathers.. the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness... well, you can not even have a chance for the second and third, when the first is taken away from you in a shower of bullets.