Gun Violence Prevention
The United States ranks seventh in the world in the number of deaths per thousand caused by gunshots. From suicide to domestic violence to terrorist attacks, easy access to firearms increases the potential for deadly violence. And the prevalence of automatic weapons, and how they’ve been used in recent years, creates a culture in which our communities, schools and public spaces are not perceived as safe.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms, although the Amendment itself links the right to bear arms with the need for a well-regulated militia. However, no Constitutional right is absolute.
To our detriment, the Second Amendment has been co-opted and exploited over the past 50 years by a radicalized National Rifle Association, and now it is the rallying cry of fringe groups on the right. They have used their lobbying power and campaign donations to drive the political conversation so that legislators have been paralyzed and unwilling to pass sensible firearms reform even in the face of the mass slaughter of school children.
Through the efforts of many, and the force of public opinion, the grip of the NRA on our nation’s political class has loosened. Recently, Virginia has passed several control measures. They include:
waiting periods before a firearm can be purchased
background checks for private sales
red flag laws that allow the temporary seizure of firearms people who may be a threat
prompt reporting of lost or stolen guns
limiting the purchases of handguns to one per month.
These actions are a start – and a good one. Now we must find a way forward that tamps down the rhetoric and unifies people. We must balance a Constitutional freedom with the real and significant cost that an unchecked right to bear arms has on human life.