Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Opinion

Nation cries out for reasonable gun laws

Suppose for a moment the insanity of the Newtown school shootings had not occurred Friday. Take a guess (this won't be too hard) where an act of perverse gun violence could have captured the nation's attention.

You're right. Florida, the land of guns.

As Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a domestic violence call and approached a Valrico home Friday afternoon, they were met by an enraged Allen Harmeyer. Deputies say he was armed with a AK-47 assault rifle, and he fired off an entire 30-round extended magazine toward the law enforcement officers.

Harmeyer turned out to be a lousy marksman, and none of the officers were hit. But what if his aim had been better? What if the three deputies had been murdered? A resulting armed standoff might have taken a while. After all, Harmeyer had 1,000 rounds of ammunition and several more weapons in his home. Harmeyer is lucky he has only been charged with attempted murder. He's lucky he's still alive.

What does it take to finally have a coherent conversation about this country's irrational preoccupation with weapons that serve no other purpose but to create memorial services?

How many more first-graders? How many more cops? How many more shopping mall and movie theater customers? How many more school administrators and teachers? How many more?

Fox News psychiatric quack Keith Ablow suggested the Newtown carnage might have been prevented had only school officials been equally armed to the teeth. And biblical opportunist Mike Huckabee has opined the murders were the product of a godless school environment. The National Rifle Association has taken a vow of omerta in the days following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass murder.

The NRA claims to be in the gun rights business, but its interests lie in maintaining a gross national product of paranoia. And it has plenty of patrons across the country, especially its wholly owned subsidiary in the Florida Legislature and in Congress, to do its bidding for fear of a politician losing his VIP seat at the public trough.

It would be a small tribute to the memory of the slain Newtown victims if their horrific tragedy served to begin to marginalize the NRA.

Reasonable people on both sides of the gun debate ought to be able to find common ground to both ensure the Second Amendment right to possess a weapon and the right to pursue happiness without worrying if your 6-year-old can go to school and be safe.

Reasonable people ought to be able to agree there is no intellectually honest rationale for owning guns like assault rifles, which have become the weapon of choice for many mass shootings. There is a reason why they are called assault rifles.

Reasonable people ought to be able to agree there is no justification to manufacture and sell extended magazines. The Connecticut murderer was equipped with enough ammunition to kill everyone in the school. Harmeyer used an extended magazine to fire at deputies.

Reasonable people ought to be able to agree there is no reason why members of the general public should be permitted to own body armor. What's the point, unless you plan on engaging in behavior that will result in police shooting at you?

Reasonable people ought to agree it is absurd that 40 percent of gun sales in the United States take place between private sellers and buyers without a required federal background check, otherwise known as the gun show loophole.

And reasonable people in Florida — the Legislature probably need not apply — ought to be able to concur that a state with a million concealed carry weapons permits has too many permits.

Perhaps the NRA would argue these suggestions are too onerous, too restrictive.

Perhaps those arguments, even among NRA members, would not carry as much influence this week as they did last week. Just ask the grieving families of Newtown. They deserve better than the all the obstinacy in the face of common sense.

So do the rest of us.

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