Another shooting tragedy, this time in Sandy Hook. Usually, it is gang related, but now it is innocent children. The press goes all out to cover the details but in most all cases I have to ask, "Where did they get the gun? Usually, there is never an answer, but this time we know. The guns Adam Lanza used were registered to his mother, who seemed to spend time target shooting at a local range. Nothing wrong here, but wait! She must have known about her son’s mental condition. The schools knew, the students knew, along with many others. Why weren’t the guns locked up and why did Adam Lanza have access to them? Here in California, all handguns are sold with locking devices (padlocks) which must be used and all rifles sold are required to be stored in a gun safe. In addition, there is a 10-day wait after purchase, and a written test is required before a handgun is purchased. This is the law. Lanza’s mother paid, with her life, for not securing her guns. If she were alive today, she would probably go to jail.
On the topic of assault rifles, the state of California will not allow the sale of any gun with a magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds. As such, one can do as much damage with a hand gun as you could with an assault rifle. How many shootings in the Bay Area are done with assault rifles versus handguns? Very few. Drunk drivers kill more people than assault rifles. Such rifles do have a purpose in safe target shooting and competitions. However, if you want one with a 30-round magazine, join the Army or Marines and go overseas to fight for our country. Unfortunately, "the horse is out of the barn” so to speak, and there are thousands of assault rifles and large-capacity magazines out there now. What to do? It is way too late to make all the guns go away.
The National Rifle Association does serve a purpose but in some ways it is "over the top” in its gun rights religion. NRA members are generally law-abiding citizens who respect god, country, their community, wildlife and the land. They fly the American flag and hunt only what they can dress and eat. Most live in small communities out in the country and respect the right to own a gun for hunting and protection. On the other hand, the right to carry a gun in public should be governed by the local authority, which it currently is. In California, you must have a permit to carry a gun. The NRA would like to see everyone have the right to carry a gun in public. This would be a major disaster in highly populated areas where there is the stress of close public interaction, resulting in tension and anger that could result in someone getting shot. Those who have witnessed a shooting say that if they had a gun, they could have stopped the criminal from doing more harm. There is some truth here but what if the bullet you shoot hits an innocent person? The end result is that your life is over and not the criminal’s. You go to court, you get jail time and the victim and family sue for all your possessions. Let the police deal with it (they get administrative leave).
For many, all guns should be outlawed and confiscated, but that is not reality, only a wish. The government will have many issues to deal with in controlling this situation. Society has lost family values. Where are the positive role models in this society? Why are television and movies filled with violence? Do violent video games promote the type of personality that go on to invade schools and malls to act out what they learn in a game? In short, owning a gun is a right but only to responsible individuals who secure them and use them for hunting or competitive shooting. It is up to the government to ensure these guidelines are followed and weed out those who do not fit such guidelines. Of course, criminals will always get their guns regardless of the law since they write their own.
Rick Zobelein is a member of the National Rifle Association and has interests in the history of German hunting and sporting arms. He is a 40-year resident of San Mateo.