Practical thoughts on gun violence

Opinion: Columns

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By Ray Simpson

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First, it is important to understand that both sides of this issue desire the same end result: the end of gun violence. The two entities define themselves as the "Rights" group who defend the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution and the "Responsibilities" group who argue for more laws and regulations. 

The Rights group see the problem being with those individuals who should never have access to weapons of any kind because of mental health, age or criminal background. The gun is not the problem, it is the person. We (I am one of this group) believe we have adequate laws on the books to take care of this problem and need a national effort to limit access to those deemed "mentally incompetent" and a "tough love" approach to criminal activities with firearms. 

Project Exile is such a hard-nosed law that puts all technical gun crimes into federal court with mandatory sentences in federal prison. This program has proven to work in Richmond, Virginia with a 60% reduction in weapons felonies. None of the proposals, from either side, will work without our court system's full commitment. 

The Responsibilities group feel that the answer is more laws, regulations and mandates. Key to their plan seems to be the yet to be defined "Universal Background Check" as well as closing the non-existent "gun show loophole, the non-existent "internet sales" problem and the restriction of the size, shape, color and function of inanimate objects that create terror in their hearts. 

To accomplish this plan Congress would need to create new laws to force gun owners into compliance and then convince the judiciary to strictly enforce those laws. Key to this plan is to convince bad individuals to start to comply with the rules of modern society — a fool's journey. 

A favorite anti-gun target seems to be the National Rifle Association, in spite of their dedication to gun safety training, certification of marksmanship competition, and partnering with local police to assist schools in hardening the safety procedures to keep the kids safe. Their lobbying effort, while efficient, isn't even in the top 50! 

If the Responsibilities group took a logical path, they must first assure that the courts will enforce their laws. Given that, the Rights people would have their first wish and would only ask that the existing laws be enforced first and then a reasonable evaluation be made before new laws be added to the old ones. 

All things considered it seems to me that the Rights group lays blame for gun violence at the feet of the antisocial group who never obey the laws and the Responsibilities group want to hold the Rights group culpable.

Ray Simpson is a resident of Oak Park. 

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