Statement on Gun Control

How many dead bodies of our children slaughtered at school must pile up before those in city, county, state and federal leadership finally have the backbone to stand up to the gun industry and do something to protect the most innocent and vulnerable in our country?

 

There are 19 dead children in Uvalde, TX. There have been 27 shootings at schools this year in the U.S. There have been 200 mass shootings in 2022—more shootings this year than days.

 

In 2020, more than 45,000 people died due to gun violence, on average 124 deaths due to guns per day. MORE PEOPLE DIED OF GUN VIOLENCE IN 2020 THAN DIED OF CAR CRASHES. Considering how often Americans use their guns compared to their vehicles, it should shock and horrify all of us that guns still kill more people than vehicles.

 

There is so much that lawmakers can do that will protect our second amendment rights and innocent people equally. I am so sick and tired of hearing about “thoughts and prayers” sent to the victims’ families, followed by “now is not the time to discuss gun reform.”

 

Really? If your child’s doctor told you that your child could die from a deadly disease, do you want him or her to offer their “thoughts and prayers,” or would you prefer the pediatrician try and save her life?

 

Yes, it’s true that guns don’t kill people, but people with guns most certainly do. FBI and CDC datasets agree, who has access to guns is imperative in reducing homicide.

 

I have always been a strong advocate for universal payor mental health care, because I believe people who are in the most urgent need for mental health services are less likely to have the resources to pay for those services. I am an advocate for grants to rural and underserved areas to attract mental health professionals and prescription dispensaries. In a state that has only 35% of the mental health professionals needed to meet demand, I believe student loan forgiveness for those entering the mental health profession should be a top priority. But addressing the mental health crisis alone will not solve the nearly daily mass shootings.

 

First, raise the age to 21 to buy any high-capacity firearm. You have to be 21 to buy cigarettes and alcohol, so you should be at least that same age to by a weapon that can and has been used for mass murder.

 

Second, pass thorough background check requirements before permitting the purchase of high capacity firearms . And I mean thorough. Those who want to study law, work in law enforcement, and serve our country must submit to a thorough background check, and so too should every person, every time they purchase a gun.

 

Third, require a 10-day waiting period and disclosure of all social media handles for the purchase of assault rifles and high-capacity magazine firearms. In Texas, you have to wait 60 days before you can be granted a divorce as a “cooling off period.” Surely a 10-day “cooling off period” is not too much to ask. There will need to be exceptions for people needing a weapon for protection and those serving in the armed services or law enforcement.

 

Fourth, track all gun sales. Currently, federal law prohibits tracking of guns. Along the southern border, there are miles and miles of gun shops. Right now, there is no way to track guns that are sold to criminals.

 

Fifth, require all gun owners to register their gun ownership and the guns they own. Gun owners should abide by the same oversight that automobile owners do. A license provided after core competencies have been proven, such as knowledge of gun laws and how to safely operate a gun. Gun owners, like drivers, should be required to have liability insurance, pay an annual registration fee, and renew their license every 4-6 years.

 

Sixth, limit the quantity of ammunitions a buyer can buy within a time period, similar to the limits that currently exist for Texans and Oklahomans have on their right to purchase some medications such as Sudaphed®.

 

Seventh, enact “red flag” laws. Start by authorizing a temporary hold on the purchase of any firearms and ammunitions upon a verified pleading from an individual with personal knowledge of the risk someone poses to themselves or another person if armed. Next, require teachers, and counselors, and health care professionals to notify authorities if there is reason to believe that an individual may harm themselves or another person.

 

Eighth, close the loopholes for gun shows and private sales. Guns sold in this manner are just as deadly as guns purchased in a store.

 

Ninth, have much higher scrutiny, background checks, and waiting periods for assault rifles. This will protect an individual’s right to own an assault rifle without the necessity of banning them altogether, which is, in my opinion, a constitutionally viable option.[1]

 

These regulations are constitutional and do not infringe on our fundamental right to keep and bear arms. SCOTUS has repeatedly held that the second amendment does not guarantee the absolute right to own and bear any weapon in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.

 

For example, prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms are constitutional. States can also prohibit some types of weapons, such as sawed-off shotguns, etc.

 

As a constitutional democrat, I believe in the U.S. Constitution—all of it. As long as states do not outright ban handguns in the home for the lawful purpose of self-defense, reasonable state and federal regulations can and should be enacted to prevent senseless mass murder. Without federal regulations, no matter how strict a state’s gun laws are, a shooter can simply go to a neighboring state and buy a gun to commit his atrocities. And as Texans have seen, without any universal background check, a disturbed young man can by as many guns and ammunitions as he desires and murder 19 little children.

 

 

[1] SCOTUS noted that the  Miller decision supported the conclusion that “arms” meant  small-arms weapons used by militiamen and weapons used in defense of person and home District of Columbia et al. v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 624-25 (2008).