Op-Ed: Preventing responsible gun ownership will not make America safer
BY MIKE LOWNEY
It has been an important few weeks for the public’s Second Amendment rights. In the first major gun rights decision since 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right to carry a concealed firearm by striking down a New York state law that made it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed weapon outside their home legally, and wrongfully required individuals to demonstrate a “special need” for self-protection to qualify for a carry license. This was a major victory that will affect at least six other states with similar restrictive licensing requirements, also known as “may issue” laws.
Unfortunately, Congress took advantage of the recent school shooting tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, to pass gun control legislation even though that meant ignoring most voters who believe more gun control is not the path forward . The result is the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first package of gun control legislation in decades.
While this bill makes significant and encouraging investments in school safety programs and our nation’s mental health system, it doesn’t fundamentally address the root causes of gun violence, and it even goes so far as to award taxpayer dollars to states that implement red flag laws.
Unsuspecting and well-meaning citizens might think these “pre-crime” laws, which would allow law enforcement to take away the firearms of someone deemed psychologically unfit to carry one, are a good idea. But in practice, they would target citizens before a crime has even been committed and deprive people of their right to due process.
But it hasn’t stopped there. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris recently campaigned for a ban of assault-style weapons, which are most commonly used for hunting, and high-capacity magazines. Biden’s White House has also proposed enacting storage restrictions and banning “ghost guns,” among other things.
All this despite the fact that Biden is on record saying that he “never believed that additional gun control or federal registration of guns would reduce crime.”
Now, however, Biden is singing a much different tune. He has argued the Second Amendment is “not absolute” even though the text clearly states “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Which raises the question: If Biden is so willing to toss aside the Second Amendment, what other fundamental rights are up for debate?
The reality is that ineffective gun control policies will not make communities safer, nor will restricting lawful gun ownership. Consider, for example, that most of America’s major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, are already home to some of the most restrictive gun control laws and are still suffering from record-high rates of murder and violent crime.
The real solution is to make sure that law-abiding citizens are able to protect themselves wherever they go. Bills like the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would do just that. Too often, families visiting out-of-state relatives, or business professionals traveling for work, get caught up in unknowingly criminal situations due to convoluted concealed carry permit laws. As the Supreme Court reaffirmed, the right to keep your firearm on hand shouldn’t stop at just your home or property.
Another policy that would guarantee real change is the STOP II, Secure Every School and Protect Our Nation’s Children Act , which would have redirected funds to hire more school resource officers and mental health guidance counselors while expanding active shooter training. Unfortunately, House Democrats blocked this bill.
There are many other policy solutions and bills to consider, such as the 21st Century NICS Act to prevent criminals from getting firearms and the Police Officers Protecting Children Act that went unnoticed. The Firearm Proficiency and Training Act , recently introduced by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and endorsed by the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, would also encourage more people to learn how to use their firearms to protect themselves and their families safely and effectively.
The only way to address gun violence is to do so head-on, with legislation that will actually protect our school children and encourage safe and responsible firearms ownership. We urge Congress to consider a more effective approach, such as hardening schools, allowing teachers to carry firearms in schools, and passing laws that support responsible gun ownership. The safety of all Americans depends on it.