Since guns don’t kill people and more guns equal safer communities, Arizona has decided it plans to be the safest state in the nation by arming as many individuals as possible.
In the last year, we’ve eliminated permits for concealed weapons, stripped the requirement for training, allowed guns in parks and bars and are now working to put guns on college campuses and erase enforcement of random gunfire.
What’s more, we have gun policies that allow individuals who can’t pass a background check to get a second chance at owning a semi-automatic. All a felon needs to do is attend one of Arizona’s many gun shows, and he/she can walk away with armloads of weapons secure in the fact that law enforcement will never get wind of it. Yes, really.
The gun show loophole, as it’s called, seems to have a stronghold in this state even though the majority of Arizonans would like to see it end. Our state leaders have bowed to the special interests that fill their election coffers and insist that nothing criminal takes place at gun shows. And technically, they’re right.
There is no law requiring private sellers to do background checks at gun shows, no law ensuring criminals don’t have easy access to their weapon of choice. And while our representatives may say they wish to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous felons, they turn a blind eye when law enforcement documents these sales are indeed happening.
Recently, a sting operation captured on video the sale of guns to undercover law enforcement officers who stated they probably wouldn’t be able to pass a background check. Considering this happened shortly after the Tucson shooting and attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, one would think this would cause outrage at our state capital. And it did. Except the outrage wasn’t directed at the gun show loopholes but rather at the agency responsible for the sting.
State Republican leaders were infuriated that a police agency from New York would dare meddle in our affairs. Never mind that New York is dealing with our and other states failures to control the sale of weapons to criminals.
What was heard from our state capital was ranting and raving over the audacity that other states believe they have a national interest in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable. Once again the standard line that spewed forth was that this was an attempt by liberals to embarrass our state and strip away our Second Amendment rights.
Well, I for one am embarrassed. I’m embarrassed that Arizonans haven’t spoken up and demanded that these gun show loopholes be closed once and for all. And I’m embarrassed that we seem too afraid to put any restrictions on guns because we’ve fallen for the line that any and all gun regulations are an assault on the Second Amendment.
I’m a gun owner. I understand the thrill of hunting and the sportsmanship of target shooting. I grew up in rural North Dakota where the first day of deer hunting season was treated as a state holiday and an excused absence from school. Many of my family members and friends are gun owners, too.
We do not want the government to restrict our ability to buy rifles or pistols. We have no intention of giving up our weapons. We have a constitutional right to own and enjoy our guns.
But we also have a right and indeed a responsibility to public safety.
Democracy isn’t perfect, but what sets our nation apart from others is the constitutional mandate of balance. Balance between state rights and national rights. Balance between our executive, legislative and judicial branches. And balance between individual rights and public safety.
We are free to yell obscenities on a street corner, but we are not free to yell fire in a crowded movie theatre. Why? Because it threatens public safety.
We are free to hunt with rifles and put antique pistols on display in our living rooms, but we are not free to shoot warning shots at a crowd of people who have pissed us off. Nor should individuals be able to purchase semi-automatics after serving time in prison or failing a psychological evaluation. And yet, the lack of oversight and enforcement at gun shows makes that very scenario real.
When loopholes exist that put our citizens in harms way, we should take immediate action to end them. When elected officials claim the Second Amendment takes precedence over all else, we have cause for alarm.
It may be true that guns don’t kill people. Unfortunately, the people who want to kill people are buying the very tools that make the rest of us an easy target.