Should there be more re­stric­tions on gun own­er­ship?

The Denver Post - - PERSPECTIVE - By Steve Lip­sher Steve Lip­sher (slip­sher@com­ of Sil­ver­thorne writes a monthly col­umn.

Guns, it turns out, ac­tu­ally do kill peo­ple. De­spite the protes­ta­tions of the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion and gun-hug­gers in this firearms-lov­ing na­tion, study af­ter study has shown what should be ob­vi­ous: The more guns that are present, the greater the like­li­hood of some­one be­ing shot.

One study pub­lished in April in the jour­nal In­jury Preven­tion, for ex­am­ple, found that for ev­ery 1 per­cent in­crease in gun own­er­ship, there was a 1.1 per­cent in­crease in the firearm homi­cide rate.

Amer­i­cans kill them­selves and oth­ers around them with guns at rates well be­yond those of any other in­dus­tri­al­ized na­tion.

There are re­ports daily— yes, daily— of tod­dlers shoot­ing sib­lings, of spouses shoot­ing each other, of friends ac­ci­den­tally shoot­ing friends, of road-rage in­ci­dents and work­place gun­fire, of “re­spon­si­ble gun own­ers” mis­plac­ing, mis­fir­ing and mis­tak­enly shoot­ing oth­ers ... and the car­nage con­tin­ues un­abated.

We now iden­tify the high-pro­file mass shoot­ings sim­ply by their lo­ca­tion: New­town. San Ber­nadino. Rose­burg. Charleston. Colorado Springs. Those are just from this year— 353 of them in all, ac­cord­ing to the web­site Shoot­ing Tracker.

You prob­a­bly don’t re­mem­ber Scott Wester­huis, who shot and killed his wife and four chil­dren be­fore set­ting his Platte, S.D., home on fire and shoot­ing him­self in Septem­ber. In this firearms-lov­ing coun­try, 63 per­cent of peo­ple sub­scribe to the mythol­ogy that guns make them safer, dou­ble from 2000, ac­cord­ing to a Gallup Poll.

In Colorado, firearms sales con­tinue at fu­ri­ous rates. On Black Fri­day— the day that a shooter killed three peo­ple and wounded nine oth­ers at a Planned Par­ent­hood clinic in Colorado Springs— gun sales nearly matched the record for a sin­gle day set the year be­fore.

Since 2011, about 1.6 mil­lion back­ground checks have been done on po­ten­tial gun own­ers in Colorado, a state with 5.4mil­lion peo­ple.

Here’s the irony: Even with all of the dis­cus­sion of gun safety and gun rights, vi­o­lent crime ac­tu­ally is de­creas­ing, and the in­creas­ing arm­ing of the na­tion is fu­eled mainly by ir­ra­tional fear in­ten­tion­ally stoked by gun or­ga­ni­za­tions and gun-rights politi­cians.

The thing is, those in fa­vor of “rea­son­able” gun con­trol con­tinue, day af­ter day, to lose the bat­tle against the vo­cal mi­nor­ity of gun­rights ab­so­lutists, who refuse to play by the rules of in­tel­lec­tual hon­esty.

More laws won’t keep the bad guys from get­ting guns, they say, even though 1 per­cent of po­ten­tial gun pur­chasers are re­jected in Colorado due to back­ground checks— nearly 3,000 pos­si­ble bad guys this year alone.

The num­ber of times that a “good guy with a gun” ac­tu­ally stops a “bad guy with a gun” is vastly out­num­bered by the times a typ­i­cally un­trained good guy with a gun ac­ci­den­tally shoots an in­no­cent by­stander, or has the gun turned on him­self, or sim­ply is un­will­ing or un­able to en­gage in a shootout.

I would pro­pose a sim­ple change to the Sec­ond Amend­ment: Clar­ify that the oft-ig­nored phrase “well-reg­u­lated mili­tia” means that you have to re­ceive train­ing in the mil­i­tary, Na­tional Guard, law en­force­ment or else­where to qual­ify for firearm own­er­ship.

Ad­di­tion­ally, gun own­ers should be re­quired to meet the same stan­dards that we re­quire for ve­hi­cle own­ers, in­clud­ing reg­is­tra­tion, pass­ing a li­cens­ing exam and manda­tory li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance for each weapon. It wouldn’t end gun violence in this na­tion, but it would go a long way to­ward that goal.

Guns line the walls of the firearms ref­er­ence col­lec­tion at theWash­ing­tonMetropoli­tan Po­lice Depart­ment head­quar­ters in­Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Jac­que­lyn Martin, As­so­ci­ated Press file

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