By LaKeshia Myers
Sixty-two. The number of individuals killed in mass shootings in 2019. We have a little over four months remaining in the year and according to Time magazine, we have had eight mass shootings this year. I am tired of the “stand with (insert city here)” hashtags and the standard “thoughts and prayers” that seem to be evoked after every tragedy in this country. Enough is enough, America has a serious gun problem and it needs to be addressed.
Proponents of gun rights often argue that their right to own guns is guaranteed by the second amendment. While this is true, it must be used within the proper context. If one actually takes time to read the United States Constitution, you will find that the right to bear arms is guaranteed under the auspices of a well-regulated militia. It has been argued that the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and state-wide Naval National Guards are all well-regulated and they qualify as militia—therefore private citizens should not be permitted to own guns. Even if taking into consideration the fact that civilians can be deputized as militia in times of federal emergencies, it is my fervent belief that civilians do not need and should not have access to military-grade weapons. The founding fathers shot guns that needed gun powder and took at least one minute to load—not high powered AK-47s or AR-15s.
We have the opportunity to do exactly what the constitution calls us to do and this to regulate the militia. Sensible gun ownership falls under the auspice of “well-regulated”. I do not understand the opposition to a forty-eight hour waiting period, closing the gun show loop hole, red flag laws, closing the “boyfriend loophole”, or creating a gun owners license. These things seem to promote responsible gun ownership.
They don’t restrict the right to own a firearm or restrict hunting ability. I am certain that many of my colleagues on the right would understand these concepts and agree to enact some measures that would keep Americans safer.
But not without the backing of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The Holy Grail of gun ownership, the NRA which was founded in 1871 to improve rifle marksmanship has since expanded to become one of the largest lobbying organizations in the United States. I find it interesting that the only time they supported gun control was during the 1960s when the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense openly carried firearms (which was legal) through the streets of California. Thad Morgan, in his article The NRA Supported Gun Control When the Black Panthers Had the Weapons stated, “In 1967, thirty members of the Black Panthers protested on the steps of the California statehouse armed with .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns and .45-caliber pistols and announced, ‘The time has come for black people to arm themselves.’ The display so frightened politicians—including California governor Ronald Reagan—that it helped to pass the Mulford Act, a state bill prohibiting the open carry of loaded firearms, along with an addendum prohibiting loaded firearms in the state Capitol. The 1967 bill took California down the path to having some of the strictest gun laws in America and helped jumpstart a surge of national gun control restrictions” (Morgan, 2018).
While the intersection of race and gun ownership are quite interesting, it should not be ignored that overwhelmingly mass shooters have been white males. It should also be duly noted that the majority of federal and state elected officials are also white males. This begs to question if or why this demographic is uncomfortable regulating the behavior of their peers? Yet this same demographic has no issue regulating others who do not fit the bill (women and people of color).
As a legislator, I view it as my duty to do what is best for my constituents and serve with the best intention. I do not oppose gun ownership, but I do support responsibility and gun regulation. It is time for us to not just give lip service to victims of gun violence, but actually do something proactive to ensure public safety.