Let’s get serious on gun violence

To the editor:

Is everyone getting as tired as I am of the National Rifle Association lecturing us about gun rights and the Second Amendment? What is it about owning a gun that turns people into constitutional law experts?

The Second Amendment by its own words is aimed at preserving the right of people to be members of a “well-regulated militia.” The present-day version of a “well-regulated militia” is the National Guard and Reserves, so it would be completely constitutional under the Second Amendment to limit gun ownership to current members of those groups. Even that interpretation is wildly permissive, because the Guard and Reserves do not require their members to purchase their own firearms, and it would be foolish for anyone be permitted to buy or own the type of firearms used by the U.S. military.

The “arms” contemplated by the authors of the Second Amendment loaded through the muzzle and fired three rounds a minute, more or less. Those wishing to exercise their Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms” should be free to own such a weapon, but no other. It is outlandish to suggest that ownership of today’s semi-automatic rifles or handguns would have ever been permitted by the founders of this country.

Unfortunately, the proposals that have been put forth to get gun trafficking under control since the Newtown killings will not have a serious impact on the number of gun deaths in the U.S., currently over 30,000 per year. We have way too many guns in this country – do we really need more? Do we really need 60,000 licensed gun dealers in this country? How about if we reduce the number of gun outlets by half or two-thirds or even more. A gun dealer’s license costs $30 a year – why isn’t it $10,000? Why is it legal to sell firearms and ammunition over the internet with deliveries made by UPS and FedEx? When we get serious about stopping gun violence, UPS and FedEx will be out of the gun and ammo delivery business.

When we get serious about stopping gun violence, sales of firearms will be limited to face-to-face transactions involving a licensed dealer, with proof of liability insurance, background checks and lengthy waiting periods – no private sales, no internet sales, no gun show sales – with permanent records of every transaction kept electronically by the ATF so there is a responsible person linked to every firearm. And why are we even discussing “instant” background checks? Every one of us knows two or three people who could probably pass a check of their criminal history with flying colors, yet should never be allowed to own a firearm. When we get serious about stopping gun violence, we will make background checks thorough and waiting periods lengthy ” four weeks at least, with potential purchasers required to prove their legal, mental and emotional competence.

Let’s get serious or people are going to keep on dying from gun violence.

Mark Beito

Sleepy Eye

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