First, let’s agree that assault weapons must be banned from ownership by private citizens.
Assault weapons belong on our military’s battlefields, not our neighborhood streets. If you’re a responsible hunter or a homeowner who wants to have weapons for hunting or home security, the Second Amendment gives you that right. But we challenge the National Rifle Association’s resistance (and undeserved influence) after 106 mass shootings (since 1982) in our country. Assault weapons should not be legal to own. The NRA has pursued a position where any gun control is a wedge in the door, and will lead to further erosion of the Second Amendment. That’s old thinking. It’s time to think in a new way, and local NRA members to help encourage that organization to shift. If the NRA doesn’t budge, then it’s time to quit the NRA, even publicly. Email NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre at WayneLaPierre@nra.org—especially if you’re a member and supporter—to tell him what you think.
Second, let’s agree all gun owners should be required to have a background check before purchasing a weapon and then obtain a permit to operate it (at a reasonable cost).
You cannot rent out your short-term rental, fly an airplane, grow vegetables for public sale, operate a food truck or drive a car without getting a license or permit (and if you drive a car, you have to reapply for your driver’s license every five years). Gun ownership should be no different. Only six states (California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, South Carolina and New York, as well as Washington, D.C.) prohibit the open carry of handguns in public. There are only 21 states (and many other counties/cities) that conduct their own background checks for all gun sales, issue their own permits, compile their own gun registries and levy their own fees.
The gun registration and permitting process will help keep the few bad apples from owning bad weapons. Your social media footprint might be part of the review. You commit a felony or misdemeanor, you lose your privilege. You threaten someone with hate speech, and the police open up an investigation about you, you lose your right to own a weapon. We can have our Second Amendment rights and be responsible gun owners. That should not be all that different than being a responsible driver, and getting to renew your driver’s license—only if you prove you are not a risk to public safety.
Third, let’s agree that victims of mass shootings deserve their day in court.
After a mass shooting the shooter (or his or her estate) may be liable, but thanks to Congress, one group is all but off-limits: the manufacturers of the weapons used in the attacks. This needs to change, which means the Republican Party needs to change its position; the Democratic Party already supports this change.
Manufacturers of assault weapons have legal responsibility for the injuries their products have on our communities. The Republican Party has protected these companies far too long. Local Republicans, we all need you to help shift that, and to force action to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was passed in 2005 only after the prohibition of private ownership of assault weapons was removed from the bill’s language.
Fourth, let’s agree that all guns sold should be required to have trigger locks and loading indicators.
Auto manufacturers fought tooth and nail against requirements for seat belts, air bags or and other safety features. Congress and regulators, recognizing that public health safety outweighs corporate interests, mandated it. Cigarette companies fought against warning requirements on packaging, but again public health and safety won out. Teddy bear manufacturers, children’s clothing, bedding, all have to put public’s health and safety first and foremost. But right now, only 11 states (including California) have laws governing the use of trigger lock devices. It’s time our government require manufacturers to sell every weapon in the U.S. with a trigger lock and loading indicator. Suicides and accidental deaths will decrease. We’ll all be safer.
Fifth, let’s agree and demand our elected representatives to speak up and join this initiative.
It’s time for California’s federal electeds—senators Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein and District 20 Rep. Jimmy Panetta—to jump with both feet into the pond. Panetta needs to hear from all of us. As a former Naval officer and with his status as a military veteran, he has credibility to help move the debate forward and create change. The NRA doesn’t even try to make donations to his campaign fund.
We can be responsible gun owners, uphold the principles of the Second Amendment and create new legislation to stop the senseless mass killings. We don’t need AR-15s to hunt deer or squirrels. You can email Panetta using the form on panetta.house.gov/contact/email or call his office at 831-424-2229, demanding he join this Call to Arms and sign this manifesto, and become our community leader to make this initiative a reality.
If not us, then whom? We cannot depend on anyone else to push this conversation and legislation. We can take the lead of the Fraser Woods Montessori School, in Newtown, Connecticut (where a gunman killed 26 people at Sandy Woods Elementary School in 2012). Just days after the shooting, Fraser Woods alumni and families paid for all coffee drinks for customers at Commonplace, in Squirrel Hill, “showing love to Pittsburgh.”
It’s simple. United we stand, divided we fall. Please join us.
See also: Recommendations from the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma’s Firearm Strategy Team (FAST) Workgroup: Chicago Consensus I
The synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh — in Mister Rogers real neighborhood — was the 106th mass shooting in the US since 1982. Hate and violence are also here in Monterey County. It's time to join arm in arm for a common sense response.