Editorial: Time to embrace sensible gun laws
Sensible gun laws protect public safety without compromising established rights to have firearms for hunting or home defense.
Seattle Times Editorial
The slaughter of innocents in Connecticut is coalescing opinion around basic proposals to reduce gun violence. From President Obama to the Seattle City Council there are remedial efforts to protect public safety.
On Wednesday, Obama directed Vice President Joseph Biden to lead a White House panel to draft a list of recommendations by next month.
The administration should start with the gun-safety measures the City Council will seek from the Legislature: a ban on assault-style weapons, a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, and an end to the gun-show loophole on weapon sales and background checks.
Partner tougher federal laws with state laws to protect public safety.
The City Council also wants the state to have laws regarding trigger locks and safe storage, and features to mark firearms so police can trace fired bullets. Yes, make those requirements part of the basic template.
Maximize efforts to protect the public and responsible gun owners. Stopping the torrent of high-powered weaponry into the culture, and limiting access to its lethal capacities, does not impede or impair home defense, hunting, target practice or constitutional rights.
Reasonable gun restrictions were acknowledged in a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which affirmed the right to keep a loaded gun at home for self-defense.
“Nothing in our opinion,” wrote Justice Antonin Scalia, for a 5-4 majority, “should be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
Regulating military-style weapons in the name of public safety does not transgress boundaries.
A 10-year ban, which expired in 2004, prohibited the manufacture, transfer and possession of 19 types of assault weapons. Extending the ban had broad support, but nothing could overcome the National Rifle Association’s hold on Congress.
The murder of 20 young children and six adults has chastened the hubris of the NRA. That is a grim measure of the horrific tragedy in Newtown.
Even with a ban in place, such legislation typically looks ahead. Society would still be awash in assault-style weapons made and sold before a ban.
The public is saying, “Enough!”
Enforce licensing requirements, broadly require background checks, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, and prohibit the manufacture and sale of assault-style weapons. Start there.
As a nation grieves, and contemplates the horror in a Connecticut elementary school, spare terrified parents the talk about a solution that involves arming everyone.
Mindless prattle is no comfort.