Turn in your guns and find a new hobby

Last week mass murder came to Fairfield County. We thought our gun laws were strict enough to protect us. We were wrong.

To those who will oppose stricter gun laws because those laws might impinge on their hobby of collecting and shooting guns: Find another hobby. Take up tennis. Play golf. Jog. Go to the movies. Read a book. Watch the Knicks. You don’t need guns to lead a happy life. Take your guns out of your house, turn them in to the police, and buy no more.

If you believe that your guns will never be used in a deadly crime, consider that Nancy Lanza, the Newtown shooter’s mother, probably felt the same way. Yet it was her guns kept in her home that her son Adam used to kill all those little children, and her guns that her son used to kill her. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence points to a large body of research showing that a gun in the home is far more likely to be used in a homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense.

 

If you are a dues-paying member of the National Rifle Association, follow the lead of George H.W. Bush, who 17 years ago canceled his membership in that heinous organization. It is the NRA, more than any other organization, that is to blame for preventing the adoption of rational gun laws, permitting one gun massacre after another to be inflicted on this country. Indeed, the NRA took credit for pushing the Republican-led Congress to let the federal assault weapons ban expire in 2004. It was a .223 caliber Bushmaster assault rifle, sickeningly referred to as a “civilian version” of the U.S. Army’s M-16, that was used to murder those children in Newtown.

To those who say guns should not be taken out of the hands of decent, law-abiding citizens, consider that Adam Lanza was a decent, law-abiding, former honor student with no criminal record until he murdered 20 little children, six schoolteachers and administrators and his own mother.

If you want to exercise your constitutional rights under the Second Amendment, join the National Guard. It was in the context of a “well regulated militia” that the framers envisioned a right to bear arms. The framers would be horrified to know that their Second Amendment had facilitated such mindless murder.

We need to follow the example of Australia and Britain on gun control, who in 1996, after a massacre of 35 people in Tasmania with an assault rifle, and the massacre of primary school students in Dunblane, Scotland, both outlawed all semiautomatic and automatic weapons, and virtually outlawed handgun ownership. Australia does not permit gun ownership for “personal protection.” In the decade following the legislation’s enactment, homicides in Australia fell nearly 60%, and gun suicides dropped two-thirds.

Connecticut’s gun laws must be dramatically strengthened. “Private sales” of guns are not subject to background checks, a loophole that permits 40% of gun sales to go through unchecked. The General Assembly needs to pass legislation requiring background checks for all gun sales, and to ban all semiautomatic and automatic weapons, both rifles and handguns, just as Britain did after elementary school children were slaughtered there. Connecticut should also follow Australia’s lead, and impose a small tax to finance the repurchase of guns made illegal by the new legislation.

We must also demand of every politician, local, state, and federal, that they take action now to sharply restrict gun ownership. No more excuses. No more indulging people’s gun hobbies. No more waiting for the next massacre of innocents.

 

Sean Goldrick is a Democratic member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, though the opinions expressed in this column are his own. He may be reached at [email protected]

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