It seems to happen every week, breaking news that someone somewhere in our nation has gone on a shooting rampage, and lives have been lost. I write this having just read of a driver in Kalamazoo, Michigan, who, between rides, randomly shot and murdered six innocent people. Who knows what news will break next week or the week after?
The Gun Violence Archive lists “1,740 gun deaths and 3,396 injuries” in the first two months of 2016. Those are sobering and alarming statistics, and not just for those deemed as political liberals. For many who are mainline moderates, those are disturbing numbers. Even a majority of the members of the NRA apparently find those numbers distressing. A poll taken by Johns Hopkins University revealed that almost 74 percent (to be precise, 73.7 percent) of NRA members support requiring background checks for all gun sales.
The issue at hand, regardless of what some might argue to the contrary, is not the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment. Nor is it trying to impose a subjective standard on what constitutes “mass shootings” (four deaths or more are taken seriously; three or less do not reach that threshold of public concern). The issue at hand is simply reason – plain common sense. The 2nd Amendment is in no way threatened or violated if adequate time (48 hours, e.g.) is taken to properly vet people before weapons are placed in their hands at gun stores or weekend shows. Tell the parents who lost children on the campus of Va. Tech or at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, that a vetting period somehow undermines the American system of democracy. Tell the grieving people in San Bernadino or Kalamazoo that there is some rational explanation for quick purchasing or for allowing civilians to buy military grade rapid fire assault rifles. The 2nd Amendment is secure and will in no way be desecrated by establishing reasonable waiting periods for proper vetting. The issue we face is simply practicing sanity before placing deadly weapons into the hands of people who are not.
Will proper vetting eliminate premeditated domestic murders? Gang killings? Violent armed robberies? Hunting accidents? Sadly, in most of those cases it will probably not appreciably lower statistics. However, proper vetting can dramatically diminish the increasing incidents of random mass shootings. And if we can accomplish no more than to protect innocent lives in theaters and houses of worship and office buildings and college campuses and local elementary schools or shopping malls, then will those efforts not have been worthwhile? If we claim to value the sanctity of human life, then is that not worth the inconvenience of 48-hour periods of time to do adequate background checks on prospective shooters?
The issue is not political. It is not Republican or Democrat. It is not liberal or conservative. The issue is sanity. The issue is reason. The issue is simply providing enough time for reasonable background checks. The issue is doing what we can to create a safe environment for all people, especially the very young or the very vulnerable. The issue is affirming the value of all human lives. The issue is simply taking a step in the direction of fewer funerals to conduct and more life, love, and laughter to celebrate instead.