What’s been remarkable in the understandable public furor after the Sandy Hook massacre is how little attention has been paid to what might actually work versus politicians simply looking for symbols—the “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines. Personally I cannot understand the need for a 30-round clip for a semi-automatic rifle, but I am not a gun person.
That said, where is the discussion about the overwhelming gun violence—young black man against other young black men. Look no farther than the biggest city in our county, Oakland. Four murders last weekend.
The victims were not killed in a school classroom by a deranged gunman, but were a part of a continuing pattern of violence. I will be astonished if the president and other politicians address this violence. It’s easy to pander with assault rifles and over-sized magazines—what’s far more difficult is the ongoing murder rate in the inner cities.
Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner was out pitching her proposal last week to track all of the ammunition sold in the state. But California has pretty strict gun laws that do not seem to be making much difference in Oakland.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hysteria and miss the larger picture. Part of that picture is what business the federal government has with tracking gun ownership. These awful events invite government over-reach and each time it further limits our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.
The potential national registry would focus on law-abiding citizens who choose to own guns. Of course, what other registries are in play for constitutionally guaranteed freedoms? Amazingly, you have to show identification to cash a check or get on an airplane, but not to cast a vote. When I was actively working on education reform, there was no way to track a student who left one school and moved out of town or to see how high school graduates performed once they moved on to college.
We saw similar over-reach, with arguably a better cause, in the first editions of the Patriot Act that ignored privacy rights and gave the government substantially more power to investigate activities of private citizens.
What’s required is a deep breath and a thoughtful conversation—not a rush to judgment driven by pandering politicians.