Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Require Licenses For All Gun Owners In Washington State

It is becoming obvious, with each subsequent news report, that the man who killed 32 people and himself in Virginia demonstrated unstable and bazaar behavior long before he went on the rampage that led to the horror. Yet he was easily able to purchase the eventual murder weapons by simply providing 2 pieces of identification and doing a routine background check. Virginia apparently does not have a flagging system for individuals who have records of having mental illness issues. Nor do most other states unfortunately.

Had they had such a system perhaps this awful tragedy could of been avoided. Frankly there's a football stadium full of such personal tragedies that happen each year in the good old USA due to our archaic and out of date gun control laws.

I personally think that guns should not be band completely. Being partially raised in rural Eastern Washington I was taught to hunt, gun safety and a thoughtful respect for the uses of firearms. It must be noted that I do not own any weapons. I have personally chosen not to own them. I am not a pacifist or one who is morally opposed to defending myself if my life were truly threatened. I would probably be at the head of the line to purchase a firearm if a Katrina like event happened were I live or civil unrest become a reality around me. I respect each individual right to make up their mind where they stand on this matter.

Though I tend to agree with Camile Paglia recent column on this issue:

"As a Salon columnist (dating back to the founding of Salon in 1995), I have tried to provide a forum for defenders of the Second Amendment to make their case. The Northeastern major media, which remain heavily liberal, rarely permit these voices to be heard.

I do not own guns and have no interest in them. (Swords, those Homeric and chivalric emblems, have always attracted me more.) But as a libertarian, I read the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights as granting to private citizens the right to bear arms against the potential abuses of a government turned tyrannous. Furthermore, should police authority evaporate after a cataclysm of storm, flood, earthquake or terrorism, citizens have a right to defend their families and property against criminals and looters. If food and water are in short supply over a protracted period, expect predators and violence."

I now believe strongly, and have for sometime, that one should be required to obtain a license (similar to a diver's license) to possess any type of firearm or rifle short of marshal law being declared. This process would require thorough criminal background checks, a gun safety training course that you must pass and some rigorous mechanism to verify that you are of sound mind and body. Of course it would keep guns out of the hands of the usual suspects such as convicted felons and those with pending criminal actions.

It simply is beyond common sense that anyone who drives a vehicle is required to get a license while anyone wishing to own a weapon, which is perhaps more deadly in the wrong hands, has little or no restrictions placed upon them in obtaining one.

Also I believe that assault weapons should be band along with the assortment of large ammunition clips and hollow point type bullets. These things are extreme and not really necessary or practical for hunting, protecting oneself or ones family or property.

It is extremely unfortunate that this apparently mentally ill individual in Virginia was allowed to somehow slipped through the cracks that exist not only in Virginia but many parts of this country when it came to keeping firearms out to the hands of people who one would consider unstable or mentally ill.

He apparently had a number of contacts with the police after allegedly stalking women on campus and appeared unstable to most who had contact with him and apparently was the proverbial ticking time bomb. Yet he obtained the weapons easily.

In Washington State individuals charged with domestic violence offenses are flagged through the department of licensing data base and prohibited from purchasing owning or possessing firearms pending the outcome of their cases. If convicted of a the offense their right to own or possess a gun is prohibited for a number of years or until it is restored by the court. Concealed weapons permits only require that they certify that they are mentally sound and go through a background check and you do not need the permit to purchase the weapon only to conceal it.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's blog had this to say on the subject:

"In the United States, if you are seriously depressed, you can purchase anti-depressive drugs like Prozac, but only if you have a prescription from a doctor. Anti-depressants are enormously beneficial to millions of people but they are also potentially dangerous if used improperly. So, you have to see a doctor and get an assessment before you can go to a drug store and purchase one.
But in the United States, in places like Virginia, a seriously depressed or deranged person can walk into a store and buy a semi-automatic handgun and a box of ammunition. All you need is two forms of identification. You don’t need permission from a doctor or counselor or anyone in the business of screening people to make sure they’re fit to have a gun."

It's time voters begin to contacting their representatives to tell them that enough is enough. We need to have the political courage to stand up to the NRA and the gun fanatics and pass laws that represent some sort of common sense control over the epidemic of gun violence in America.

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