Lewis: Mass shootings can be stopped | VailDaily.com

Lewis: Mass shootings can be stopped

Mark Lewis
Valley Voices

If you listen to most politicians these days, you would think that mass shootings are just a reality that Americans need to live with and, other than “thoughts and prayers,” there is little anyone can do. That is utter BS. I believe, with some simple changes that would not significantly impact gun rights, we could eliminate most mass shootings as well as the bulk of the 500 or so yearly accidental gun deaths.

Essentially, we need to treat gun rights just like any other right and set rules and requirements that ensure the right is not abused. Let’s take a corollary “right” as an example — the right to vote. In most states, it is now harder to vote than to obtain a gun. Does that seem fair to you?

It’s getting worse — 19 states enacted voting restrictions last year to make voting more difficult based on absolutely no evidence of voter fraud. We should all be so proud that our government is hard at work solving non-existent problems while at the same time taking away our most basic constitutional right — the right to vote.

The hypocrisy is stunning. Politicians have no constitutional worries about making it harder for Americans to exercise their right to vote, but those same politicians are somehow “powerless” to stop mass shootings because it might become slightly more difficult to buy a gun. Really? Think about that.

If you insist on making it easy to buy a gun because you believe it is required by the Constitution, then why doesn’t that logic transfer to voting rights?

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We do not need to come up with new solutions — they are already out there and proven to work in other countries. Four simple actions might be all we need.

Background checks

Some polls show 90% of Americans want them, so why aren’t laws in place already?

Mandatory firearm training

I am a gun owner and former hunter and own about 15 different guns. Before I was even allowed to handle a gun, my father made me go through a three-day class on gun safety. Would we want people to just start driving without any training or a driving test? This is basic common sense and would be supported by almost all responsible gun owners. In addition to reducing accidental gun deaths, the need for training would be a large deterrent for spur-of-the-moment shootings. Training also establishes a “respect” for the power of a gun which is very important.

More checks, tougher training for military-grade weapons

If you want to drive a semi-truck, you can’t just have a regular driver’s license. So why not the same rules for assault weapons? The argument that, if people can’t get assault weapons, they will just use different guns or knives is completely false. In countries, including our own, that have made it harder to get military-grade weapons, mass shooting rates decline — period.

Age restrictions for military-grade weapons

The average age of the shooter in school shootings is only 18. We know that kids have a harder time dealing with emotions and thinking through the impact of their actions, which is why we have a 21-year-old drinking age. The same rule should apply to guns.

If we did these four things, it would still be easier to get a gun than a driver’s license and I am sure it would save hundreds of innocent lives. The deeper question to me is why, when we have data that shows we have a problem (mass shootings), we have clear data from other countries as to what works to fix it, we have the vast majority of American people wanting solutions like background checks, and we can implement these solutions with almost no impact to constitutional rights — why do politicians continue to try to deceive us into believing nothing can be done? Clearly, we are not dealing with people that are worried about maintaining constitutional rights. If that were the case, it would be easier to vote than to buy a gun.

Simply put, we have reasonable ways to reduce mass shootings that do not significantly impact Second Amendment rights. That is not the problem. If we are going to have an impact on reducing mass shootings, we need to address the more fundamental issue that our elected leaders are failing to represent the will of U.S. citizens.

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