Cumberland Times-News


December 20, 2012

Protect the public while safeguarding our rights

All of us were shocked and horrified at the elementary school shooting in Connecticut. None of us can fathom the loss these families have suffered and will endure for the rest of their lives. This is a tragedy that we mere mortals will never fully understand.

Our reaction to the slaughter of innocents must be tempered by time and brutal analysis. We cannot afford to jump to conclusions on its cause.

Likewise, we cannot waste our efforts on corrective measures that do nothing more than feel good or allow bombastic rhetoric from either side of the question to cloud sound judgment. We must be realistic and honest. We cannot assume anything.

We know from the shootings at Virginia Tech several years ago that the shooter had mental issues. Likewise the Colorado theater murderer was being treated for mental difficulties as well.

We must ask: How did these people legally purchase the weapons they used to kill? When you or I purchase a weapon the gun dealer must call for a clearance number to ensure that we are legally permitted to own a weapon.

Our name and other personal information is called into a national clearing house to run a criminal record check and allow the dealer to complete the sale. If you don’t pass the check, you don’t get the weapon.

A madman in Scandinavia killed nearly 90 people with improvised explosives. Many of his victims were children. Scandinavian countries have far stricter gun laws than many states here at home. That being said, stricter gun control laws do not equate to a safer society.

I accept the inherent responsibility of owning a weapon. I am fully aware of the consequences of misuse both on the range and in the field. In my training in the military and my work in the prison system I benefited from professional training.

One fact was always stressed in my training: Once fired my bullet has no brain, it will go where I tell it to go. Mistakes change lives forever.

How do we prevent atrocities like these massacres? It is not simply a case of more regulations and bans. The Scandinavian attack shows a person bent on murder can mix a few household chemicals  and cause great damage and loss of life. You do not need high capacity weapons to cause mass casualties and fatalities.

How do we protect the public at large and safeguard the constitutional liberties of honest citizens who accept the responsibility of owning a weapon?

It would make sense to me that if you have a mental health issue, you shouldn’t be allowed to buy a weapon. Why can’t a mental health check be included with the criminal record check?

If the police have to report your criminal record, if you have one, shouldn’t a psychiatrist report on you if he feels that you may become violent or have a clouded view of right and wrong?

A police officer can get our criminal records in moments; he will take appropriate action if we are wanted or have a pending warrant.

The dealer does not need to know the buyer has mental problems. He needs to know the guy should not be able to buy a gun. Why the dealer can’t be told, during the call, to contact police to follow up on this prospective buyer?

Americans have the right to be secure and safe in their homes, school, and workplaces. Whatever actions we take to safeguard the public must be balanced with the rights of the individual citizen. When we sacrifice liberty for the sake of security, we lose both.

Jeff Robinette


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