Last week, America’s latest mass shooting tragedy took place fairly close to home: the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, where 49 people were killed and 50 more injured. This latest nightmare came with the added wrinkles of it being not only a shooting by an unstable assailant (which is common), but also an attack on a specific group (the LGBT community), that was at least partially inspired by a known terrorist group (ISIS). Once the smoke cleared, the drama quickly shifted to Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Senate, as expected, rejected several variations of what, in reality, would be fairly minor tweaks to existing gun laws.
Four proposals — a Republican proposal to update the background check system for gun purchases, which would have required states to add more information on mental health records to a national database; a Republican proposal to delay gun sales to individuals included on a government terror watch list; a Democratic proposal to expand the background check system for those buying guns to require checks at gun shows and for online purchases; and a Democratic option that sought to bar all gun sales to those individuals on the terror watch list — all failed to advance toward passage. There is, however, a bipartisan group working toward compromise language that could lead to closing the loophole allowing known potential terrorists from acquiring firearms.
The battle over gun rights in the United States, and to what extent they can be adjusted, has waged for decades, but an escalation of mass shootings in recent years has led to more vocalization pushing ways to deal with this epidemic. Unfortunately, this is not an issue going away any time soon, but several ideas could be put in place that should appease both sides of the argument, since negotiation and compromise will need to be part of the equation.
First, any individual who is part of an ongoing, legitimate FBI investigation shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms. And by “legitimate” we mean that there needs to be hard proof that the individual is being investigated, and the burden of proof should be on the federal government. This should include anyone being investigated for terror links.
Second, enforce the already-existing rules for non-carry permitted handguns on military defense weapons. These weapons should only be used at a range, training facility or private property that is safe and secure, away from the public; they may only be loaded at those facilities; and when transported, the ammunition must be stored separately from the weapon itself, and the weapon should be transported in a locked container.
Third, there needs to be universal background checks with a shared national database of felony crimes. Anyone with a conviction for an armed crime, domestic violence, murder, criminal sexual conduct or any abuse should be denied a permit to carry a firearm or purchase firearms.
Finally, all firearm sales or transfers should have background checks.
In the grand scheme, anyone who is a law-abiding citizen and gun owner should not have any problems with any of these items.
We understand that if someone wants to find a way to commit an atrocity, stopping a “lone wolf” gunman is nearly impossible. However, our government has an obligation to make it more difficult than it currently is for this to happen. Responsible gun owners aren’t the issue; the problem is irresponsible gun owners and would-be terrorists (both foreign and domestic). Perhaps action on some or all of the above list will stop the next Orlando from happening.