Twenty-three firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition, all legally purchased by someone who passed background checks — that is what was used in the massacre in Las Vegas. At least 11 of the guns were semiautomatic, all fitted with legally available so-called "bump fire stocks," turning them into fully automatic weapons. And there were numerous large-capacity magazines, also legally available. No one in his or her right mind would think that purchasing this arsenal should be constitutionally protected, yet it is — by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The perpetrator did not violate any laws or regulations amassing this weaponry and transporting it to the hotel from which he fired.
In 2008, a 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the handgun bans that were in place in Washington DC, stating that "the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home." Yet the Supreme Court indicated that "like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited" and that "it is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose." In 2010, the Supreme Court in essence invalidated similar gun regulations in Chicago and, yes, our own Oak Park (since 1983). This 5-4 majority decision again stated that certain firearms restrictions are assumed permissible.
Thus, local, state, and federal governments can put in place regulations on gun and ammunition sales and gun ownership. The question is whether such regulations could have prevented the Las Vegas massacre and whether they would reduce gun-related violence and suicides in general. I would argue they would, and I firmly believe that every life saved or injury prevented justifies putting such firearm regulations in place. However, reductions in gun regulation have outnumbered increases in the past several years.
Oak Parkers have overwhelmingly voted in support of non-binding referenda related to gun regulation measures in the last three years. So have River Foresters and the rest of Cook County. So the next question is what can we, the people of Oak Park, do? Our local government and state and federal representatives are all in favor of stricter gun regulation measures, so putting pressure on them will not change things beyond showing our support for their positions.
Two weeks ago, in this Journal [Do not stand idly by, Viewpoints, Oct. 11, http://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/10-10-2017/Do-not-stand-idly-by], John Barrett suggested things that you can do: Get involved in groups and organizations that pursue stricter gun regulations at the local, state, and national level; and support legislation such as a requirement that gun dealers in Illinois be licensed by the state to enable restrictions on dealers that supply most of the firearms used in gun violence in Chicagoland.
Let's get to work!
Maarten Bosland, an Oak Park resident, is a member of Gun Responsibility Advocates, which encourages gun owners to accept the increased responsibilities that go along with gun rights.
Answer Book 2018
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