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As Long as We Remember...

January 21, 2013

Left Unsaid by “Obama on Guns”

Steven R. Berryman

Last Wednesday the president conducted a “high noon” news conference to announce and amplify upon 23 “executive actions” concerning gun ownership in America. Children were used as props; the resolutions and legislative suggestions were to propel a liberal anti-gun agenda. The centerpiece ban would not have stopped the psychotic shooter in Connecticut.


An “assault weapons ban” and limitations on gun magazines to a capacity of 10 rounds certainly would have been proposed sometime in 2013 with or without a showcase tragedy that had been foreshadowed.


[By now, sophisticated readers of will surely be aware that the term “assault rifle” is simply a prejudicial, made-up term to confuse low-information citizens about differences between machine guns and semi-automatic rifles that happen to look alike.]


Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is proposing similar gun-ban legislation in Annapolis, and Del. Michael Hough (R., Frederick 3B) reminds us on his weekly informative video that “there have been zero murders by assault weapon (a misnomer) in the State of Maryland. The governor is grandstanding to position himself for a 2016 Democratic presidential primary against his New York counterpart Andrew Cuomo.


I was struck by the news conference, not so much for the predictable opportunism, but by the fact that the presidential pronouncements missed so much fertile ground had the real goal really been about preventing another Newtown from ever happening again. Some of the obvious items that could and should have been considered or clarified include:


·       Access to guns: The “universal background check” proviso is meaningless if those not qualified under law to own a firearm can borrow or steal one quickly.


·       The personal responsibility of the gun owners themselves is critical to a real solution.


Gun-safe minimum security standards should be set and mandated as a requirement of the ownership of certain guns. Criminal penalties must be determined for those allowing easy access of firearms to others. Young Ryan Lonza would not have gotten into his mother’s guns had they been stored in a Liberty Safe!


I would also recommend a second locked and separated storage cabinet for the ammunition element of the equation.


Also left unspoken, but foreshadowed, was the element of universal background checks that provides a loophole – person-to-person transfers and sales of guns. This one is tricky; it is also known as the gun-show loophole. What of a father wanting to hand down his guns to his own children? Yes, a gun store would need to handle the transaction under a new law. This will not go down quietly, especially in “red states.”


And getting back to background checks, exactly how is the doctor/patient relationship going to be compromised if the onus of evil detection becomes part of the doctor’s job? Are all general practitioners trained on psychological screening?


What would be the legal liability of a doctor compromising a sacred oath of the privileged relationship? What would constitute proper disclosure on the side of the patient or the doctor? Would the doctor be required to submit information on a patient that seemed to be withholding information!


Now for the medical/mental disqualification for gun ownership. Exactly which conditions and to what severity will automatically prohibit gun ownership? How about a one-time consultation about hyperactivity or obsessive-compulsive disorders? If a patient confessed a passing thought about suicide, however mild, is that to be an automatic disqualifier? How about an eating disorder?


Seems like a pretty tangled web we are weaving, perhaps conceding too much power to the state via the possible medical requirements alone.


Ironically of those mentally ill, statistically they are far, far more likely to be victims than they are to be criminals.


Now, back to Topic A, the gun ban itself. In Maryland alone there are over 10,000 legally owned firearms defined as assault weapons in the military-appearance sense. (There are many more than that with the same specifications – caliber and semi-automatic actions – in circulation with hunters and target shooters.) Will current citizen ownership of assault weapons be permitted as a “grandfather clause?” Will the resale of such grandfathered guns be permitted?


Lastly, a limitation on the capacity of a guns magazine, or clip, to one that holds but 10 rounds is bad law. By definition and usage, these clips can be owned in as many multiples as one wants, and can be duct taped together for even quicker reloading. This would not hinder the speed, methods, and actions of a deranged killer seeking maximum hurt.


Conclusion: We already have the right gun laws on the books; it’s a matter of enforcement. What has been proposed, and what has been – so far left out – does not afford much hope that we are pursuing gun law changes for the right reasons.


Could it be that our government is uncomfortable with an armed citizenry?


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