Your Say: Do proposed federal laws regulating purchase and capacity of guns have a chance?

Gun Rights

Commonsense is not in common usage

Given the current atmosphere in Washington, D.C., relative to the topic du jour, gun reform legislation, it is unlikely that 10 Republican senators will have the intestinal fortitude to grant President Joe Biden the 60-40 vote needed to pass any proposals. Shame on them. How difficult can it possibly be to bring us some sanity?

Outlaw the sale of AR-15 rifles, except for authorized military training and combat use. Raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21; ban high-capacity magazines; increase background checks; institute red-flag laws. Commonsense, indeed; however, there is a cry from the far right that those laws would “take away the rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Anyone who can’t tell the difference between commonsense weapon possession, preventing the killing of elementary school children, and “I want my Second Amendment Rights” is just plain ignorant. And any politician who can’t stand up for the lives of our children is pandering to the National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists. It would be interesting to see how many congressional representatives and senators voting down “meaningful gun legislation” are on the receiving end of donations from the NRA and others associated with tactical weapons.

I would like to see card-carrying members of the NRA stand up and say they promote meaningful gun legislation. We don’t want your guns taken away, sportsmen or hunters alike. Men and women who are licensed to have weapons for protection, we support you. But just because a gun owner can wave a flag, conceal-carry without a permit (legal in some states) or attack the nation’s Capitol doesn’t mean they are free.

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Freedom is a collective responsibility, and both sides need to work together to stop the slaughter. Please remember, however, that compromise makes a nice umbrella but a poor roof.

While there may not be votes in the Senate to make important life-saving changes, intelligent American voters can make it happen. Vote them out. Show the same backbone and patriotism that Ukrainians have demonstrated to save their country.

Our children and grandchildren are America’s future; 19 of them in Uvalde, Texas, will never have one.

Serena Contreras, Mission Hills

Until lawmakers care, nothing will change

One would think that finding common ground would be easy when it comes to gun legislation that might help stop the death of innocents. Ten people killed at a grocery store. Nineteen children slaughtered at school. Hey, members of Congress, what say we come up with some new gun laws to maybe stop the carnage? Crickets.

Always deathly silence after another mass shooting. Why? Aren’t members of Congress fed up with all the bloodshed? Aren’t they tired of burying the bodies? Apparently not. Unless, that is, it’s one of their own who is being interred. That tragically could be the common ground needed to come up with new gun legislation.

Marijuana laws didn’t change until lawmakers’ children were being arrested and sentenced to years in jail for simple possession. I’m talking a couple of joints got you a year in the pokey. The minute that started happening, the laws changed quick.

I fear gun laws will only change when lawmakers’ children and other loved ones are killed in a massacre. I wish that pain on no one, but if Congress is going to be motivated, its members must experience the same common ground that everyday American citizens do. If they don’t want to feel what the average person feels after a loved one is mowed down, then I suggest they act now. Don’t wait for the next mass shooting.

Neil Proffitt, Oceanside

Enforce laws we have on the books already

My response to that is no. With the exception of background checks, new gun laws are not needed if we enforce the ones we have on the books.

However, this is not done a lot of times. The Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooter had offenses in the military that would have precluded him from purchasing a gun, but the military never informed the proper agency. Any sort of criminal offense, including traffic, should be reported and surface in a background check.

Want to buy a gun? Don’t break any law, including minor ones. Impose big penalties on agencies that don’t report criminal behavior. Many of the killers had run-ins with the law but only over minor things: animal abuse, etc. And don’t glamorize guns like in your Sunday sports headline “Young guns display worth vs. Brewers.”

This is really a backdoor to limiting gun sales but probably politically palatable.

Barbara Boyne, Bonita

Be honest about what the founders intended

The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” But the very first words of this amendment are a falsehood. They are blatantly and obviously not true. A militia is not necessary to the security of a free state. We don’t use or need militias — groups of private citizens armed with guns — to keep the peace. We depend on a professional police force, and this has worked, by and large, for more than two and a half centuries. In fact, private citizens bearing arms have now become a peril to the security of a free state — the cause of an ever-growing cascade of mass killings of men, women and children.

Was this the intent of the framers of the Constitution? Of course not. It’s a result they could not possibly have foreseen. The predominant arms of the 18th century were the flintlock musket and its relatives. Instead of spraying 40 rounds of death in a matter of seconds, the flintlock musket was a cumbersome weapon that took at least 30 seconds to load — a complicated process that required skill, coordination and its owner’s full attention — and then it could fire one shot. Thus the famous command, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” One shot in the tumult of battle was all you were likely to get. Then it was close combat with swords. The framers could not possibly have foreseen today’s weapons of war, “arms” that would allow an angry, suicidal 18-year-old to kill a classroom of children in minutes.

Yes, we must elect congressional leaders who will pass laws needed to stop this carnage — a ban on high-magazine assault weapons, a rise in the age limit to 21, background checks, and a waiting period — but such laws have been struck down by state courts on Second Amendment grounds.

Oddly, however, the originalists on the Supreme Court today could be our hope. If they truly plan to base every judgment on the framers’ original intent, as they claim, they should be able to see that the framers could not have intended to allow every citizen over 18 to own an AK-47, any more than they intended that people could own a machine gun, a rocket launcher, a tactical nuclear weapon, or any other 21st century “arms” whose lethal potential they could not even have imagined in 1776.

Courts have rejected gun control laws on the grounds that the Second Amendment gives people the right to a gun to defend their homes against a burglar. But that wouldn’t require an AK-47. A one-shot weapon like the founding fathers owned — or even a two-shot weapon — should do the job just fine, and save the lives of countless potential mass-shooting victims.

Lynnette Perkes, Poway

Just try to repeal the Second Amendment

Find the common ground in the history books, starting with the wonderful documents prepared by America’s founders. They not only wrote numerous rules and laws but also certain “guaranteed” freedoms that should never be taken away from citizens. Brilliantly, and unselfishly, they also wrote how their rules, laws and freedoms could legally be modified or repealed by future generations.

For example, more than a century ago, there were plenty of Americans who thought that lives were being ruined or lost because of drinking alcohol. This caused the enactment of the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) during 1919. Plenty of Americans ignored the law and drank (and died) anyway, and taxes were not collected, causing Americans to repeal the goofy 18th Amendment via the 21st Amendment, signed into law during 1933.

Most people agree that “if you’re not going to do it properly, then don’t do it all.” There are no ambiguities in the phrase “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” If we could resurrect all of the authors for just 15 minutes to ask them about today’s weapons, they would tell us that their opinions don’t matter, because they gave us the mechanisms to change or delete anything that they enacted, including the Bill of Rights.

Therefore, it is suggested that all active protesters and petitioners unite with their efforts to either modify or repeal the Second Amendment. In case these efforts succeed, it would be terrific if Elon Musk can implant gigantic magnets into the surface of the moon, so that at the exact moment that the Second Amendment dies, the American president can flip a switch that pulls all weapons in America to the moon.

I wonder if any other country will copy us.

And, of course, I must wonder if the repeal of weapons will fail as miserably as did the repeal of alcoholic beverages.

Glenn Bernard, Carlsbad

Conservatives will thwart any efforts

I remain skeptical that Republicans have the courage to let Congress enact any meaningful gun legislation. Even if a miracle were to happen, it’s hard to see the conservatives they have sent to the Supreme Court letting the legislation stand after judicial challenges.

There is one odd glimmer of hope in this. The Supreme Court has hinted in the leaked opinion on Roe v. Wade that justices are willing to throw out stare decisis. With that in mind, my suggestion is blue states like California should start creating state militias again. The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I suggest we set up a state militia and make membership mandatory. Then we have California regulate our state militia with lots of rules on the training, use and maintenance of firearms used by all militia members. Wasn’t that, after all, the intent of the founding fathers?

Bob Schmidt, La Jolla

Only one way to get Congress to agree

I absolutely believe Congress could find common ground on gun legislation if we take the money out of politics. If we would allocate a portion of national security funding to provide campaign finances to each candidate in proportion to the position they are running for, limit the time of campaigning to four months, disable candidates from spending their own money, and provide equitable TV time, then I believe that the majority of members in Congress would agree on:

1. Doing background checks on purchasers; 2. Requiring training in the proper handling of firearms — similar to having to take a driver’s test to get a license for a car; 3. Having more frequent buy-back opportunities; 4. Using red flag warnings to remove weapons from the homes of “dangerous” people; 5. Banning assault weapons (not realistic — but on my personal wish list)

If campaign spending were controlled, the influence of wealthy individuals and organizations would be minimized. Commonsense solutions to a very serious problem could be worked out, and members of Congress would have to respect the values of the majority of their constituents, not just those with financial means.

Randi McKenzie, College View Estates

Campaign finance reform is the solution

We’re all fooling ourselves to believe that either side of the gun debate is ever going to be satisfied because of one fact.

Money.

The Uvalde, Texas, massacre and similar events are the best thing to happen for both the pro-gun and anti-gun reform groups. Dollars are overflowing in both camps right now. Media outlets will soon be blessed with major ad campaigns for and against gun control.

While not gleeful about it, politicians know Uvalde presents an excellent window to raise major funds for their campaigns. Most will seize the moment to flood our email boxes with the horrors of what the other side is trying to do — either stoking fears that guns will soon be outlawed or that school teachers will be required to pack heat in the classroom.

This is not a cynical view. It’s just a fact.

Federal Election Commission data shows that winning House candidates raise an inflation-adjusted median of $1.3 million while successful U.S. Senate campaigns raise an inflation-adjusted median of $7.6 million. It’s no secret congressional members spend hours every day in proverbial boiler rooms dialing for dollars. A primary responsibility for the average representative is to raise money to keep his or her job.

Every major issue from guns, abortion and climate change to criminal justice is fueled by the political industrial complex. The more the citizenry is divided, the better the money flows in. And we’re unwitting pawns in the process. It’s easy to blame the politicians. I’ve known many politicians, and most are decent people who start out wanting to make a difference. But quickly they become trapped in the heroin-like addiction of needing more and more money.

So, regardless of what side of the gun debate one believes in, the best thing we can collectively do is to stop feeding the monster through financial contributions.

All we need is a small but mighty group of voters from all political persuasions to vote only for candidates who seriously support campaign finance reform.

No need to change parties. No need to relinquish your values. But agree to vote only for senators and representatives (regardless of party) who make two commitments: 1) immediately stop accepting money from political action committees and other dark money sources; and 2) genuinely sponsor and support campaign reform legislation.

Independent-minded voters — regardless of party — hold the power to get our country back to a place of reasoned debate and action to solve problems.

Without demanding campaign finance reform first, the number of dead school children, grocery shoppers and church members will only continue to rise. And the tired old arguments for and against reasonable gun safety measures will simply be lost as white noise in our culture.

We can only blame ourselves as citizens if this madness continues. Our leaders are too addicted to the awesome fundraising opportunities each tragedy brings to deliver on reasonable compromises.

We need to help them break the habit.

Bill Hornung, Vista

Congress has tried too often and failed

There are now more than 400 million guns in the United States, and 20 million of those are AR-15-style weapons. Gun ownership has become a cult. Though more than 70 percent of NRA members claim they are for reasonable gun laws, they oppose them when the time comes to vote.

There have been about 250 mass shootings this year, and 27 of them were on school grounds. Not a single week has passed without at least four mass shootings, and 256 people have been killed and 1,010 have been injured through the end of May.

In its 2008 ruling, District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court found that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to possess firearms, completely ignoring the phrase “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” contained in the Amendment. The Constitution protects an individual’s right to own possessions such as a gun, but since we are not all members of a well-regulated militia we do not have a constitutional right to own a gun.

I seriously doubt Congress will find any common ground for gun legislation. There have been dozens of congressional gun bills proposed since 2011 and almost all have failed.

As long as the Republicans view violent crime, immigration and inflation as issues they can blame on Democrats, it is unlikely they will support any changes in any of these areas.

John Gahan, Mira Mesa

Vote those out who won’t consider gun reform

For years, Republicans in the Senate have blocked any meaningful gun control reforms from passing. If it were to happen, it would have happened by now. With mass shootings in the United States reaching epidemic proportions, we still get flimsy excuses that are detached from reality because they are afraid of losing their jobs. A recent New York Times article explains the power of the gun lobby in detail. Congress should find common ground, but it would be minimal, at best. Why? This is the only country in the world that must continually mourn the loss of beautiful, innocent children and other loved ones who were brutally shot with assault weapons. The only purpose for assault weapons is for killing people in warfare. There is no reason for an average citizen to own a weapon that was only made for murdering people. The idea, on the surface, is insane but Republican lawmakers allow this to continue because they support the gun lobbies.

Most NRA members and gun owners don’t own or need an assault rifle. It is the power of these weapons that attract mass shooters. They want to take out as many people as they can with magazine clips that shoot hundreds of rounds at incredible speed, with unmatched power of the bullets. A potential mass shooter is less likely to act if all they have is a far less powerful weapon. They want to experience power and be remembered for their carnage. That cannot happen with a normal weapon.

Some argue that guns don’t kill people, it’s people that kill other people — and that we have a mental health problem, not a gun problem. The “mental health problem” is with the lawmakers. They are arming disturbed people, with no background checks necessary. Having assault weapons available to potential mass shooters is like giving a flame-thrower to a mentally-deranged pyromaniac and saying, “It’s all yours, just don’t start any fires with it, okay?”

With each mass shooting our outrage has fallen on deaf ears. And it continues. Innocent lives have been stolen from us due to inaction, and we have been betrayed. Common sense laws are needed to stop this insanity. We should vote out lawmakers that support any form of insanity. The answer is to elect people who will act on behalf of the vast majority (see the polls) who want to be protected and have their children protected. Currently no one is safe, so the lawmakers may feel it’s time to throw us a bone, and make a minor concession or two. Don’t buy into it. Stop the insanity. Vote them out. Common ground? Please! Passing the proper gun legislation has STOPPED mass shootings in other countries around the world – a proven fact. There is no need to allow innocent loved ones to continue to be brutally murdered because politicians would rather support the gun lobbies. Don’t rely on them to change things. Vote them out.

Paul Willey, Rancho Bernardo

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