Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gun Control Impossible, but We Can Still Do This

Closing the "gun show loophole!"
by Charlie Leck

Through the organization, The Color of Change, I received an interesting message yesterday from the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, the Honorable Cory Booker. The mayor pointed out that in March there were no murders in the City of Newark and that marked the first time in 44 years that an entire month passed without a murder.

My, oh my! It is such a statistic that makes some of my good friends in Western Europe shake their heads and wonder about America. Murders are rare, even in big cities like Paris and Berlin. Look at the difference in annual murder rates between large cities of equal size, like Washington (DC) and Toronto. Washington has about 300 murders each year. Toronto has a dozen.

Those are stark differences and they do unquestionably say a great deal about a culture and a national mentality.

Politically, it is obvious that “gun control” is not the answer. Our founding fathers knew not what a Pandora’s Box they were opening when they included the second amendment to the constitution in our Bill of Rights. Sweeping legislation is not a realistic possibility.

Mayor Booker, however, made some interesting points about some legislative actions that are possible and would help stem this rising tide somewhat. And, here’s what he said about how we can be involved:

“Right now, there is a gap in our nation’s laws. It's called the Gun Show Loophole, and it enables criminals, the mentally ill, and other legally prohibited persons to purchase firearms without a background check. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, 30% of illegally trafficked guns are connected to gun shows.

“Even though many gun shows are organized in more rural states, the impact of illegal guns obtained through the Gun Show Loophole is overwhelmingly felt in America’s cities and minority communities. That’s why I’m partnering with ColorOfChange to ask for your help in closing the Gun Show Loophole.

“Please join me in telling Congress to step up and close the Gun Show Loophole. It will protect all of our communities, and it takes just a moment:

“This week also marks the 11th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School, where twelve students and a teacher were murdered.3

“The killers got their guns because of the Gun Show Loophole, and politicians immediately swore they would take action to close it.

“But eleven years later, nothing has changed. The loophole is still open and more than 12,000 Americans are victims of gun murder every year.4 Minority communities often feel the brunt of this violence -- African-American men, for example, are 9 times more likely than white men to be murdered with guns.

“I'm a proud member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns -- a coalition of more than 500 mayors who believe in common-sense gun laws. We are doing what we can to reduce the number of illegal guns on the streets of our communities.

“Just as it's a priority for us, closing the Gun Show Loophole should be a top priority for our representatives in Congress, and they need to hear your voice.

“Please add your name to the petition and help protect innocent people from gun violence:

“To win this fight, you and I need to speak out and make a call for action that is long overdue.

“Thank you for getting involved in this crucial issue for our community..."

This seems like a little thing to do. You’ll probably start getting regular emails from Color of Change if you do it, but you can always hit their little “unsubscribe” button if you don’t want those and the organization will discontinue them.

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