Just a couple of weeks after the tragic shooting that took place in Tucson that claimed the lives of six people and left Rep. Giffords (D-Arizona) in critical condition, a South Carolina teenager shot and killed three of this family members with a gun presented by his father (who tragically perished in the shooting). More recently, a principal was shot to death in Northern California by a custodian following a dispute.
Even with all this rampant gun violence, the NRA, the Tea Party and their gun-loving supporters have not been moved. When legislation was proposed to ban firearms around members of congress, some people voiced their opposition, stating that their Second Amendment rights would be breached if such a bill passed.
Before I go any further, let me state that I have nothing against folks owning guns. I grew up in a household where there were firearms (safely locked away where children couldn’t find them), and I remember being taken to the woods around the time I was 13 to learn how to shoot. However, I am a firm believer that there should be stricter laws concerning access to such deadly weapons.
If I want to drive a car or teach in a public school anywhere in the United States, I am required to go through a lengthily process in order to get the license to do so. If I fail during any part of that process, I will be denied the document. However, in many U.S. states someone with a history of mental problems like Tucson suspect Jared Lee Loughner could easily walk into a store and buy a semiautomatic gun with no problem whatsoever. Not only that, he was able to carry his Glock without even having a permit.
In spite of what Gov. Jan Brewer or Sarah Palin (two of the Tea Party’s biggest crackpots) and the NRA might think, I think that gun ownership should be like getting a driver’s license. There should be no loopholes whatsoever, and before anyone is handed a weapon, that person should submit to a battery of psychological tests to assure (as much as possible) that such an individual will not pose a risk to society.
Of course, I realize that such an idea is no more than a pipe dream unless citizens support such a measure. In this country, we have the 2nd Amendment defenders and those who hate guns, period. What we should do is come together in some kind of consensus to make sure that individuals can only have access to firearms if they prove that they are mentally stable to do so. Gun ownership, in my opinion, should not be a right – but a constitutionally protected privilege.