Bernard: We must strengthen our gun laws

Published 3:48 pm Friday, August 23, 2019

Jack Bernard
Retired corporate executive

For many years, the AMA and other medical groups have attempted to get both the President and Congress to view “this epidemic of violence” as a public health issue, to no avail.

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of little kids, the AMA sent a letter to President Obama and Congress. It stated: “Many of the deaths and injuries resulting from firearms are preventable.”  “The relatively easy access to the increased firepower of assault weapons, semi-automatic firearms, high-capacity magazines, and high-velocity ammunition heightens the risk of multiple gunshot wounds and severe penetrating trauma, resulting in more critical injuries and deaths.”   

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That letter, signed by dozens of medical associations, also discussed mental health services and funding research into firearms violence. Virtually nothing was done as a result and recently we had yet another gun tragedy in Texas and Ohio, joining Las Vegas, Charleston, Poway, Aurora, Newtown, Virginia Tech, Columbine and numerous others.

And, we have had the same statements by GOP politicians on both the state and national levels not wanting to take action saying that, for example, the Vegas shooting is “horrific”, we are “grieving”, but it’s “premature” to act (Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, AJC, 10-11-17). Speaker Ralston, that was nearly two years ago; when will be the right time?

My friends who are NRA members seem to believe “all we can do is pray.” But that is just a way to saying: “ignore the problem.”

Prayer alone is no answer. Neither is Trump tweeting “God Bless you!” to the families each time saying he’ll correct the problem and then doing absolutely nothing at all. God helps those who help themselves.

The Harvard Injury Control Center has studied the issue. Their website lists numerous studies which present the problem and remedies in detail. The bottom line is that more guns equals more gun violence, not less.

This fact is true when comparing states or nations. Unfortunately, due to the very effective misinformation campaign of the gun lobby, gun enthusiasts truly believe exactly the opposite. I see this anti-regulation view expressed on social media after every mass shooting.

Detailed background checks must be mandatory, and the gun show loophole eliminated. Per many surveys, the public overwhelmingly supports these moves. Instead of loosening laws on criminals buying guns (which the DOJ did under Trump), they must be tightened, and national databases strengthened.

Automatic and semi-automatic weapons of war should not be owned by individuals, any more than bazookas should. Armor-piercing bullets and larger magazines must be controlled. States can and must limit and tighten up regulations about where weapons can be carried and concealed.

Red flag laws are needed to identify violent people and remove their guns.

Mental health services must be available and affordable for those in need. Community outreach must be expanded.