The Right Approach to Gun Safety

The Democratic Party finally seems to be righting itself on the issue of gun control:

Democratic presidential candidates are distancing themselves from tough gun control, reversing a decade of rhetoric and advocacy by the Democratic Party in favor of federal regulation of firearms. Most Democratic White House hopefuls rarely highlight gun control in their campaigns, and none of the candidates who routinely poll near the top is calling for the licensing of new handgun owners, a central theme of then-Vice President Al Gore’s winning primary campaign in 2000.

I wholeheartedly agree with Wesley Clark’s and Howard Dean’s stance on guns. In a nutshell, here is my view: Places like New York City, Philadelphia and Los Angeles grapple with violent crime on a huge scale, and need strict gun laws. Places like Montana and Vermont do not. Therefore, it is silly to enact legislation at the federal level (handgun licensing, “cooling off periods,” etc.) that is only warranted in a few places.

Does that mean all federal gun legislation is inherently wrong? Well, no. Here are some examples of good federal requirements:

-No civilian should be able to buy automatic assault weapons, grenade launchers, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank shells, land lines or A-bombs, as the potential damage they could cause if used maliciously outweighs any possible safe use of these in sports or self defense. As Clark says “If you like assault weapons, you should join the United States Army. We’ve got plenty of them.”

-All citizens should be required to undergo instant background checks when they purchase firearms. Period.

-All citizens should be required to secure their handguns when children are present in the home. That means either gun locks, unloading the weapon or whatever other means the owner chooses.

How do we define a “child” in this case? Well, it may be 14 in South Dakota, but 17 in California. All the more reason why most laws should be set at the state and municipal level.

It all sounds simple and reasonable to me. Any questions?

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