Where are the common sense gun laws?
The Jacksonville shooting is yet another in a long line of unconscionable mass shootings. Although mental illness and/or racial hatred can be cited as a root cause of such incidents, it is not coincidental that many are carried out by perpetrators dressed in body armor carrying AR-15s, mimicking the violence we see every day in popular culture. These incidents are taking place in a country in which there are more guns than people — unthinkable in a civilized society.
As gun violence escalates, it’s time we reevaluate our stance on firearm regulation. The Second Amendment, conceived in an era of muskets, cannot be an unchanging relic in the face of today’s advanced weaponry. We can take tangible steps towards a safer society by implementing a system of gun registration and eliminating military-style weapons from civilian hands.
Our founding fathers could not have predicted the technological advancements that have led to the development of highly lethal weapons. Hence, the interpretation of the Second Amendment should evolve to reflect the current reality of firearms.
Just as we regulate motor vehicles to ensure public safety, we must adopt a similar approach with firearms. Implementing a system of gun registration would identify firearm owners and distinguish responsible citizens from potential threats, establishing accountability. Those who possess arsenals or engage in arms dealing would be subjected to higher levels of scrutiny.
Also, several countries have had success with gun amnesty programs, encouraging individuals to turn in their weapons in exchange for compensation. This approach has been shown to reduce the number of firearms in circulation, consequently lowering the risk of gun-related incidents. The cost to the government for such initiatives pales in comparison to the human lives lost and the financial burden of maintaining a heightened level of protection.
Indeed, the proliferation of guns places an overwhelming burden on law enforcement agencies. The ability to isolate shooters from the public becomes increasingly challenging, endangering innocent lives. Emphasizing self-protection over the role of the police not only undermines community safety but also strains the resources and effectiveness of law enforcement.
The freedom to live without fear should outweigh the perceived freedom to carry weapons. A society in which citizens can go about their lives without the constant threat of gun violence is a society that values human life and collective security. This not a call for eliminating the Second Amendment as hunters and gun enthusiasts would still be able to enjoy their sport with their registered, non-military style weapons.
These arguments represent a starting point, rather than magical solutions. Undoubtedly, guns will still find their way into the hands of criminals. However, by gradually eliminating military-style weapons and implementing comprehensive gun registration, we pave the way to a more permanent answer.
The Second Amendment should not be a barrier to common-sense solutions that align with the values of safeguarding lives and promoting freedom from fear. Our elected representatives, genuflecting to the NRA, have become accomplices in the loss of so many lives to gun violence. Their refusal to do anything tangible from Sandy Hook, to Parkland, and to hundreds of different places over the years is criminal and irresponsible. Vote them out!
Robert Hagelstein is a resident of Palm Beach Gardens.