Viewpoint

Six steps to firearm safety

March 24, 2013 

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and President Barack Obama’s call to action for a comprehensive approach to gun and school safety, the Atascadero Democratic Club supports the establishment of common sense gun regulations by local, state and federal legislators that ensure our community is safe without violating constitutional rights.

There is no single solution, nor one piece of legislation that will prevent all acts of gun violence. Recognized as a public health crisis, the injuries and deaths caused by citizens shooting or killing other citizens or themselves — whether these shootings are intentional, accidental, or suicidal — can and must be reduced.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in one year on average, more than 100,000 people are shot, and 30,000 die. Every day, on average, 286 people are shot, and 86 die.

America has now suffered more than 60 shooting massacres over the past 30 years. America’s schools and colleges remain vulnerable without our focus on enhanced school safety.

Only federally licensed gun dealers are required by law to run background checks. Yet 40 percent of gun sales — 6 million guns a year — are sold on the secondary market through unlicensed dealers. These sales are not subject to background checks, enabling the acquisition of guns by criminals, perpetrators of domestic violence, minors, substance abusers, and those with severe mental illnesses.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans agree that we should ban the sale of assault weapons, as well as high-capacity magazines or clips that can hold 10, 30, 50, or 100 bullets at a time.

The large majority of Americans (91 percent in one survey) support requiring all gun buyers to pass a criminal background check, no matter where they purchase the weapon or from whom they buy it.

At a minimum, greater safety requirements must be implemented and supported to prevent the violent use of guns in America by calling on legislators, community groups, churches and individuals to:

1. Ban the sale of military-style assault weapons, as well as high-capacity magazines or clips that can hold more than 10 bullets at a time.

2. Require all gun buyers to pass a criminal background check, no matter how they purchase the weapon; adopt California’s background check process.

3. Increase funding of mental health and substance abuse treatment services, using Proposition 63 funds to implement California’s Laura’s Law of Assisted Outpatient Treatment.

4. Increase funding for school security and safety.

5. Adopt the policy recommendations of the Gun Policy Summit convened by the John Hopkins University on Jan. 14 and 15, 2013. (http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2013/gun-policy-summitrecommendations.html  )

6. Participate with movements and groups such as Mayors against Illegal Guns, Americans for Responsible Solutions, or Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Midori Feldman is president of the Atascadero Democratic Club.

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