By Teresa Welsh |
After the cold-blooded murder of 20 innocent young children in their classrooms, it's amazing that there's even a debate on whether or not there's anything we can do to reduce tragedies like this in the future. Unfortunately, the mass casualties enabled and aided by the easy availability of assault weaponry are all too common in our country, in the public places that should be safe for innocent Americans to enjoy.
We can't just throw our hands up and let the murderers win. We need to take a holistic look at how to reduce mass killings in America, including at not just the guns used and our commerce practices around them, but our mental health and education systems, too.
But there's one simple, common thread in every single mass shooting in recent history: the use of high-capacity magazines in order to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Taking high-capacity magazines off the shelves for civilians would present a major obstacle for the next murderer trying to equip to kill large numbers of people. It can save lives in America.
Opponents of banning high-capacity magazines and other assault weaponry will often say, "Murderers don't obey the law, so making new laws won't do anything. They'll always get their weapons of choice so there's no use in banning them." The fact is that in the worst mass murders in recent history, the killers used only whatever they could acquire legally and easily, and nothing more. The Sandy Hook shooter took guns his mother had in the house. The Aurora and Tucson shooters shopped online and in regular sporting stores. Even the shooter who killed 69 people in Norway had to order his high-capacity magazines from the United States, because they're banned in his country. Imagine if they had been banned everywhere.
As is often the case, these mass murderers aren't career criminals with access to any black market or illegal gun dealers—they used whatever's legal and easy to get. Why don't they use automatic machine guns like the military uses? Because they're banned in the United States and nearly impossible to acquire. Ban the sale or transfer of high-capacity magazines, and suddenly they don't have access to these deadly devices either.
We need to put the rights of innocent, law-abiding Americans who want to live without the threat of violence before the twisted designs and desires of cold-blooded murderers. We can't let the murderers win.
The Constitution and Supreme Court have already affirmed the principle of gun ownership with reasonable regulations. Banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, the mass-murderer's accessory of choice, can save lives in America without infringing upon anyone's Constitutional rights.
So what are we waiting for? How many more Americans need to die before we act?
About Carolyn McCarthy Democratic Representative from New York
Gene Hoffman Chairman of the Calguns Foundation
Erich Pratt Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America
Josh Sugarmann Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center
Joshua Horwitz Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence