Brian Kieran’s We the People: Fair and uniform gun regulation makes sense

The NY SAFE Act restricting assault weapons, bullets in magazines and creating regulations to prohibit mentally ill persons from getting guns became law this week. It also requires background checks for buyers at gun shows. The bill received bipartisan support in the state legislature. This is an example for lawmakers in Washington to follow.

The NRA accused Albany of pulling an end-run around the democratic process and promised to challenge the law in court. It will employ its puppets in Albany and Washington to change or overturn the law.

President Obama is proposing changes in federal gun regulations to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and increase background checks for gun buyers. Congress banned assault weapons from 1994 to 2004, but private citizens in the U.S. still have hundreds of millions of guns, including more than 10 million AR-15 assault rifles. The right to keep arms wasn’t eliminated by the ban.

The NRA suggests placing armed security guards in every school in the United States to keep our children safe. The proposition is preposterous and impractical. The NRA said that “attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution … [and] only honest law-abiding gun owners are affected while children remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.”

This nonsensical non-statement is NRA obfuscation at its finest. Does this mean there is nothing that can be done to improve the safety of our children? Does this mean that regulations on firearms “ignore” children? The NRA is a single issue, influence-peddling trade organization for gun makers. It has no solution to suggest and its statements should be given no weight in a debate on gun regulation or gun violence.

The president stated, “We can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.” The NRA merely spreads propaganda in the hope that the good citizens of the country will do nothing.

The people should insist on enactment of fair, uniform and sensible regulations on gun ownership, gun registration and background checks. The hodgepodge of state gun regulations enables criminals and irresponsible people access to guns. The Virginia Tech shooter killed 33 people with guns he purchased legally in Virginia because the state did not mandate inclusion of reports of mental illness for background checks.

A limit on guns that an individual owns, insurance for guns, periodic inspection of guns, and periodic physical exams of gun owners would not constitute a ban on gun ownership. People who oppose gun regulation point to studies that show criminals get guns on the street, not from licensed dealers who conduct background checks. However, a comprehensive body of federal regulations on gun ownership will make it harder for guns to get into the hands of law-breaking citizens.

Meanwhile, New York City, with the strictest gun laws in the nation, has seven-year-olds bringing loaded semiautomatic pistols to school. Even the strictest gun laws cannot prevent this outrage because the flood of illegal weapons enables anyone, even a seven year old, access to a gun.

This is a reason to increase gun regulation rather than to reduce it. The NRA will propose that all responsible seven year olds be armed so that they can respond to such dangers, but reasonable people know this is no way to increase safety.


The mayor walked out of a bargaining session with the UFT over teacher evaluations. A deal was imminent but the mayor refused to compromise with the teachers union and allowed a deadline to pass, which cost the city $250 million for education.

Unfortunately, the mayor is so set on breaking unions that in any confrontation with them he can lose sight of the important issues. If this was a business deal and a missed deadline cost him a quarter of a billion dollars, he would have made a deal.

The nation and the state still have significant fiscal hurdles ahead of them. We must reduce spending and reduce the debt that has accumulated due to overspending. If we stay informed and engaged in public debate, then we can make our leaders do what is necessary to make this happen.

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