Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

January 28, 2013

We can protect ourselves and the Second Amendment

On Dec. 14, 2012, our nation wept for reasons of which we are all well aware. The devastating tragedy in Newtown, Conn., brought us to our knees. It was a heartbreaking event that we can neither forget or ignore.

As a civilized society, we must take action to better ensure the safety of our children and to ensure that our self respect as human beings is not further diminished.

We need to act quickly, before the event in Newtown lapses into history only to be replaced by another unthinkable tragedy and the cycle of inaction repeats itself.

There is no easy solution to gun violence in America, or the problem would have been resolved long ago. But surely, reasonable minds can agree on sensible steps to make our country more safe.

This can be done while also protecting the Second Amendment rights of millions of law-abiding citizens who own guns and do so responsibly.

First, let us be clear as to the extent of gun violence in America. When you compare our gun-related death rate to other industrialized countries, the U.S. is an extreme outlier.

For example, gun-related death rates per 100,000 persons in Australia, Canada and the U.K are 0.10, 0.50, and 0.03 respectively. By comparison, the U.S. rate is 2.98 (Source: Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney.)

In some cities, gun-related death rates are five to 10 times the overall rate for the U.S. In Chicago alone, there were 505 gun shooting deaths in 2012. The majority of the victims were people of color, and more than 100 of them were elementary to high school children.

Gun deaths in Chicago outnumbered American troop deaths in Afghanistan last year. These facts are largely ignored by the mainstream media. This is unacceptable, and it is absurd. Clearly, we should take steps to study and reduce the culture of violence in America.

But any serious efforts to reduce gun violence must include the following common-sense measures regarding the availability of guns. We need to restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and ammunition clips.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who served as commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, recently said the following about assault weapons: “That’s what our soldiers ought to carry. I personally don’t think there’s any need for that kind of weaponry on the streets and particularly around the schools in America.”

 We need a federal law that requires universal background checks for all gun purchases. This would close the gun show “loophole,” which allows about 40 percent of gun sales to be done without background checks. Fixing this problem would prevent a dangerous person from going to a gun show and walking out with an armful of weapons.  

Finally, we need the federal government do more to require states and federal agencies to submit information about disqualified individuals, including people with mental illness, for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Each of the above measures are broadly supported by a majority of Americans.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center finds that 55 percent of Americans favor a ban on assault-style weapons, 85 percent favor background checks for private gun shows, and 80 percent favor preventing people with mental illness from purchasing guns.

The Allegany County Branch, NAACP urges you to contact your federal, state and local elected officials to request their support for safe, sane and sensible gun violence prevention laws, policies and programs.

Concerned citizens need to make their voices heard. As a decent country, we can no longer accept the status quo.

Richard W. Jones, communications chair

Allegany County Branch, NAACP

Cumberland

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Translations differ, but the message is eternal

    This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).

    April 15, 2014

  • Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters

    After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.

    April 15, 2014

  • The first step Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing

    The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
    When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Midterm elections give chance to return to American values

    A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest  group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the  outcome of the November election if they all respond.

    April 14, 2014

  • Speed cameras Speed cameras

    We’ve never been big fans of speed cameras, primarily for two reasons. First, because the cameras are not always accurate, and secondly because many jurisdictions seem to create revenue by installing cameras and issuing high numbers of speeding tickets.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Group wants status quo on Sunday hunting

    Many Maryland residents have grown very concerned about two legislative bills that are arriving on the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley after being approved by both the Senate and House chambers this session. With the governor’s possible signature of these bills into law, hunting would be allowed on certain state lands on Sundays — a day in the past reserved for rest and non-hunters to enjoy public lands.

    April 10, 2014

  • New policies will grow better streamside buffers

    Well-functioning forest buffers along streams are perhaps the most effective and least costly best management practice we have to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

    April 10, 2014

  • National Day of Prayer events begin April 30

    The Cumberland National Day of Prayer Committee has finalized plans for the 63rd annual observance, with a prayer rally, a breakfast, an outdoor worship ceremony and youth rally planned April 30 through May 2.

    April 9, 2014