2018-03-10 / Editorial

Bipartisan efforts at gun control?

The routine of an ordinary school day in a South Florida high school was shattered by the sound of a fire alarm and the rapid fire of an assault rifle as teens, caught off guard, started screaming and running for their lives.

Of all days, it was Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2018 when a lone gunman walked into the school and started firing an AR15 assault rifle as he proceeded to kill 17 people (three adults and 14 teens) and sent another 14 to the hospital, gravely wounded.

This country is facing an epidemic of gun violence that begs for a solution and a sobering admission that what we are currently doing is not working.

In the case of the South Florida school shooting, I think we can all agree that an 18-year-old should not be able to purchase an automatic assault rifle. Lawmakers in Florida, disagree, and as an unintended consequence, unwittingly allowed this shooting to occur.

We have a problem in this country that has no real solution as we examine mass shootings that started decades ago at Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, 1999 when 12 students and one teacher died and 24 were injured.

Prior to this occurrence, the debate was ignited on Oct. 1, 2017 when a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at a music festival on the Las Vegas strip in Nevada. Fifty-eight people died and 851 were injured as this gunman fired 1,100 rounds from his suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel.

The shooter died of a self-inflicted wound, leaving no motive for his actions. Unlike the South Florida shooter, who was 19 years old and is now in police custody, the Las Vegas shooter was 64 years old and has lived his entire life from an outward appearance as a law-abiding citizen who was able to purchase an arsenal of weapons for no apparent reason until the deadly shooting.

In this case, the shooter was able to rig a device called a bump stock to his semi-automatic weapons, converting the guns to automatic style military killing machines, plowing through the helpless and unsuspecting crowd, all out for an evening of enjoyment.

After Sept. 11, 2001 we were able to employ a simple campaign that connected us all as we employed the mantra, “See Something, Say Something.”

The public was responsive as numerous acts of terrorism were interrupted by observant citizens.

If such a campaign can work to prevent terrorist attacks, it can work with efforts to stop these despicable acts of violence against our children.

Up for debate is strengthening background checks by making them universal, connecting to every state.

Banning the bump stock devices that convert guns to killing machines and raising the age for purchase of assault rifles from 18 to minimum age of 21, closing loopholes tied to the purchase of guns from gun shows and scrutinizing or limiting the number of military style automatic weapons that can be owned by private citizens.

While fear has no place in our schools and school security must be a priority, arming our teachers with weapons however, is not the answer.

That was a suggestion provided by our Commander in Chief during a listening session held recently at the White House with students and family members of shooting victims.

In North Carolina, in response to the question, “How old must you be to purchase a handgun, shotgun or rifle” the law says to purchase a handgun from a federally-licensed firearms dealer, an individual must be 21 years of age or older.

The age at which a person can purchase a shotgun or rifle from a licensed dealer is 18.

Note however, that although an 18-, 19-, or 20-year-old may be issued a pistol purchase permit, they would not be able to purchase a handgun with it from a licensed firearms dealer.

More details on North Carolina gun laws may be found in the North Carolina Department of Justice Law Enforcement Liaison Section found online at ncdoj.com.

One final thought; If this great country can put a man of the moon and walk in space, why can’t we come together and produce a bipartisan measure that protects our children from mass shootings while maintaining Second Amendment rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution?

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