Congress must seek solution to gun control

This country can no longer continue to go with the status quo when it comes to gun control. Stronger gun control laws are needed.

We’re not suggesting the government should start knocking on doors and taking rifles and handguns from their owners, nor are we calling on the establishment of a police state where no one but the police have guns. And we’re not saying citizens should not own guns.

We are saying thorough background checks and waiting time to receive a gun need to be stricter than they are now, and they need to be enforced. Checks are not going to end violence. But they could at least help prevent it, and they could help law enforcement do its job to keep people safe.

Sorry, but people shouldn’t be able to walk out of a store the proud owner of a high-powered weapon capable of mass killings within minutes of filling out the paperwork and handing over a credit card. Purchasing a high-powered, semi-automatic weapon like an AR-15 isn’t the same as buying a hunting rifle, though the NRA will argue it actually is a rifle suited for hunting. It doesn’t sound unreasonable to check, in depth, the background of the people who want these kinds of guns. And it doesn’t sound unreasonable to have a waiting period before they can have the weapon.

Let’s be clear about other thing. If law-abiding citizens want to carry a concealed weapon and have the appropriate permit, they should be able to carry such a weapon. You know what they say, it takes a good man or woman with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. We agree. But let’s admit it. Times are changing when it comes to people and what they’re doing with their guns. Some people intend to cause harm to others and it’s far too easy for them to access a weapon that allows them to do that quickly.

The recent mass killing in Orlando won’t be the last. But something has to change. That’s why we support U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono in their efforts to curb gun violence.

Two such measures were defeated Monday.

Democrats rejected GOP proposals, which they called too weak. GOP leaders called proposals by Democrats too restrictive.

A proposal authored by Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT) would strengthen background checks for gun buyers. The second, authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and cosponsored by Hirono and Schatz, would close the “terror gap” by giving the Attorney General the discretion to keep suspected terrorists from buying a gun.

“Right now, known terrorists are banned from getting on an airplane, but they are still allowed to buy military-style weapons. It is absolutely insane,” said Schatz, who joined the 15-hour filibuster led by Murphy to demand action on gun violence.

“Last week on the Senate floor, I joined Senator Murphy in calling for action on commonsense measures to curb gun violence in honor of the more than 6,000 people killed by guns so far in 2016. Since that speech last Wednesday, nearly 200 more Americans have been killed by guns,” Hirono said. “Enough is enough. These victims and their loved ones deserve more than empty promises, thoughts, and prayers.”

The defeated plan by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) increased money for the background check system. It also revamped language prohibiting some people with mental health issues from buying a gun, which Democrats claimed would reduce current protections.

The sides remain apart with different views and philosophies as to the best way to stop mass killings and having tougher gun control laws. They are walking the fine line of trying to keep Americans safe and yet, being sure Americans maintain their rights, including the right to bear arms.

We hope for a solution, soon, to end gun violence. If our government’s leaders can’t agree on a way to do it, then perhaps the best one, the most effective, is one we can start immediately, at home. There is a lot of anger and hatred in the world. A lot of distrust. A lot of bitterness and resentment. New laws and rules won’t change that. Only we can. One home at a time. It’s up to us. Today is a good day to start.

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