J.B. Wogan is a Governing staff writer.E-mail: email@example.com
Since the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo., some news commentary has escaped the binary of second amendment rights vs. a full-scale firearms ban. Here are a few fresh perspectives on the challenge of tackling gun violence.
Jarvis DeBerry, of New Orleans’ The Times Picayune, imagines a what-if scenario where everybody has a gun, an extension of the now well-publicized statement by NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
DeBerry argues that possessing a gun can also make you a target, especially in tense, chaotic situations, and especially if you have been incorrectly profiled as dangerous because of your outward appearance in the past.
New Orleans was the site of a controversial shooting on Danziger Bridge in September 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina, where police allegedly opened fire on unarmed civilians because they incorrectly believed the people to be armed.
“Police are conditioned to see people with guns as threats,” DeBerry writes. “I imagined police arriving at the theater. It's dark. There's chaos. Who in that situation wants to be seen holding a weapon? And then it hit me: people who expect to be perpetually perceived as innocent, people who can't fathom being perceived as a threat.”
Eric Sharp, a former outdoors writer for the Detroit Free Press and an avid hunter, offers some pragmatic gun-control solutions that he says shouldn’t hamper a shooting sportsman’s game. He dismisses proposals to ban military-style semiautomatic rifles because most gun homicides in the United States involve handguns. Bans on high-capacity magazines, however, interest him.
“It's not as important how fast someone shoots as how many times he can shoot. That's why something as simple as limiting magazines for semiautomatic rifles and handguns to six rounds makes a lot more sense than outlawing the guns,” Sharp writes.
The guest columnist also favors registration of all gun sales, harsher penalties for gun crimes, limits on the number of gun sales and purchases per month and a closer look at how the entertainment industry portrays gun violence. Finally, he demands that responsible, law-abiding gun owners speak up when they support sensible regulations.
“A lot of gun owners called, wrote or e-mailed me over the years to say they agreed we need more gun control laws, including gun registration. And I'll bet at least 80 out of 100 today would agree there's no defensible reason to own a rifle magazine that holds 30 rounds. Yet they rarely express those views publicly,” he writes.
Emily Miller, of The Washington Times, calls into question the magical number of 10 -- the cap-off point for magazine capacity in several gun-control proposals at the state and federal level this year.
“Ten is a number chosen out of thin air for reasons of political theater. The gun grabbers use it to imply the higher-capacity magazines enable murderers to kill more people, but it doesn’t actually work out that way,” she writes.
Miller points to a 2004 report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerry Lee Center of Criminology, which estimated that in gun crimes, shooters fired an average of four bullets -- well within the 10-round limit. She also argues that detachable magazines take seconds to reload, making the limits intuitively ineffective.
It’s worth noting, however, that the report’s authors concluded that a 10-round limit “may be instrumental in a small but non-trivial percentage of gunshot victimizations."