Cumberland Times-News

December 29, 2012

Reasonable remedies exist


Cumberland Times-News

— I’ve been hearing many people since the horrific events in Connecticut say, “Drunk drivers kill people! Are we gonna take away cars?” As ridiculous and reactionary a statement that may be, here are some facts and ideas that relate to that analogy.

In the 1970s and 80s a lot of drunk drivers were killing lots of people. We did something; stricter speed limits, regulating the alcohol industry, busting down on underage drinkers, random stops and stiffer penalties.

Hasn’t stopped drunk driving but the deaths from it have plummeted since the 1980s, even adding population rates to the equation.

The weapons used in these crimes (automobiles) are heavily regulated, licensed, registered and insured. You must have extensive training at a young age and be a certain age to understanding using one.

There’s an entity of the state government regulating it in the manner of the MVA. The auto industry has regulations on the types of vehicles they can manufacture and sell.

You can’t just walk into a dealership and buy a tank or test a vehicle that breaks the sound barrier. You can’t buy an ocean liner and put it in a lake at a local park. That would be stupid and unnecessary, right?

None of these things exist with guns. Why?

There should be an age limit on gun ownership. When you reach the required age, you should go through extensive training on handling weapons.

You should have to go to your local gun version of the MVA (Weapons Regulation Administration?), get your operator’s license, register each weapon and put a license on each weapon.

The license and registration should have to be renewed regularly. Each renewal should have a mental health/criminal background check.

You should have to show proof of at least liability insurance on each weapon insuring if you hurt or kill anyone, intentionally or accidentally, they or their survivors will be financially compensated for damages or losses inflicted by you!

Ammunition should be heavily regulated and limited. Those lacking registrations, license, training, insurance or having violations should be strictly punished with the removal of their weapons privileges.

Funds generated by fees collected from registrations, fines, etc. could be used for more DNR officers, more cops on the beat, security, weapons education and mental heath care services! The weapons industry would be unable to manufacture, sell or distribute any assault weapons or weapons made for warfare or their ammunition.

Current owners of such weapons may keep them, must register and license them and will no longer be permitted to buy ammo for them.

These principles are used for automobiles, why not for weapons? They would not violate, in any manner, anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

Lastly, a complete overhaul of how we treat mental illness. A total change in the now common practice of easy and quick diagnosis, medicating and sending them off into a world they don’t understand and are now having to deal with on drugs that are severely altering their already challenged reality.

Invest in taking the time to diagnose and treat with therapy, kindness and attention to detail, not just drugs. Have a comprehensive, cogent, easily available support system that is expedient and well funded.

These things will not stop crazy or just plain mean people from killing with guns. Like the DUI problems of the past, they will result in huge declines from gun violence in our culture.

We all have to make a bit of a sacrifice. We should all be expediently willing to compromise. It’s worth it to prevent slaughtering elementary school children.

Bubby Lewis

Frostburg