It was a hot and bloody summer.
James Holmes took the lives of 12 people in Colorado with a Remington 870 shotgun, a .40-caliber Glock handgun, and an AR-15 assault weapon.
Wade Michael Page killed six people in Wisconsin with a Springfield 9 mm semi-automatic pistol. Most recently, Thomas Alton Caffall shot three people in Texas; a semi-automatic sniper rifle, a bolt-action rifle, and an assault rifle were found in his home.
These are just a few of the stories that made it to the major news networks. The disturbing reality is that in the U.S., there are over 100,000 gun victims every year.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “On average, guns kill or wound 276 people every day in America. Of those shot, about 75 adults and nine children die.”
Yes, the total number of firearm murders has decreased in the past decade, but it is inexcusable that the U.S. gun fatality rate is eight times higher than economically comparable countries worldwide.
We have reached a point where gun fatalities are so common that we are only momentarily fazed by the latest death report. And yet we view ourselves as a civilized, peaceful nation.
As a Second Amendment supporter, the horrific shootings this summer have made it painfully clear that firearm reform is urgent. While it is easy to blame the government for failing to pass basic legislation to make our streets safer, there also needs to be more accountability placed on the manufacturers, sellers and owners of guns.
We have forgotten that with certain rights come responsibilities. As a society, we have failed to uphold our end of the deal. With the NRA trying to maintain the status quo in Washington, it’s up to those who deal directly with guns to take initiative in making them safer.
Although it should be a federal requirement, all gun owners should purchase and use gun locks to prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands. With gun locks, the number of children who die every year playing with guns would decrease.
For gun manufacturers, greater emphasis needs to be placed on making firearms childproof and theft-proof. Personalizing guns is an emerging technology, with fingerprint recognition, or entering a personal identification number so that only an authorized user could operate the gun.
It is absurd that there is no federal law for requiring background checks for all gun purchases. For private sales and gun shows, firearm sellers need to take responsibility and conduct careful background checks. There should be ramifications for selling a firearm without seeing the record of the buyer.
Currently, the FBI does not keep long-term gun purchase records. If it did that, along with making criminal records and history of mental illness easy to verify, it would give firearm sellers and police a better picture of who is buying a weapon and if he/she should.
This isn’t the Wild West anymore: we need to adjust gun control for the realities of the 21st century. It is time to make basic changes to protect our communities, whether it is with gun locks, mandatory background checks, improved technology or greater awareness.