A few short days later and the massacre that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut still weighs heavy on all of our hearts. The unimaginable incident was the second mass shooting in less than six months in our country.
It’s now more than ever that the issue of gun control must be addressed, and the American people are waiting for immediate action. The fear and disgust in regards to our nation’s gun laws have sparked numerous debates in the past, and even more so this past weekend.
I’ve heard points of view from everyone on the issue spectrum, and to be honest, some of them are a little frustrating. All of the gun control points you've heard or have discussed yourself have undoubtedly been discussed countless times before, but very rarely do we hear the opinions of a legal gun owner. The majority of you write legal gun owners and gun collectors off as "rednecks" or "hicks" and in all honesty, that's unfair.
Everyone has an opinion, as everyone is certainly entitled to one, but many people who give such harsh opinions lack the experience of being raised in a stable household where guns were legally owned and kept safely. I grew up in a household where guns were kept.
My father, a career hunter with a love for the sport, was 20 years old when he purchased his first gun almost 29 years ago. His first gun, and every gun purchased since then, had been purchased with the intent of using it for hunting/collection purposes.
I sat down with my father to ask him a few questions about his experience with firearms, because in all honesty, I never had before. My father owns twelve shotguns/rifles and one handgun, and throughout my entire childhood kept every firearm locked in a gun cabinet. Each gun has it’s own trigger lock and every round of ammunition is locked in a separate location.
The gun cabinet was never hidden from my siblings and I. The door to the cabinet is glass and we could always look in and see what was there. Never once were us kids curious, suspicious, or fearful, because our father went about making sure everyone was safe in the right way.
My father’s first gun, a shotgun, was purchased via an independent seller. I reiterate that it was for hunting purposes. Post purchase, my father underwent the process of obtaining a firearms identification card. The process, which included interviews, checks with the FBI, state police (we’re residents of New Jersey) and town, in addition to submitting letters of recommendation and numerous fees took around two months.
When you’re a registered firearm owner, your records are forever kept on file if you wish to purchase an alternate firearm. The handgun, however, required it’s own permit, an additional one to three month permit application process. Now, a background check is also required.
I was curious to ask my father what his views on gun control laws were and if they had changed since Friday afternoon. Always careful and more than willing to follow any gun law put in place, my father feels as if our country should eliminate all assault and automatic rifles sales to civilians and is in favor of a government buyback of automatic rifles already registered and in the hands of civilians.
He’s absolutely right when he says that there is not one reason to own a weapon of that magnitude. He feels that the only firearms that should be allowed to be sold to civilians should be one-shot guns, for hunting purposes, because in the words of my father “The animal should have a chance and a right to live if he survives the one shot.”.
At this point, we discussed what should be done. I brought up the idea that mental health evaluations should be implemented as a part of the registration process. I personally feel, that making it harder to obtain a firearm will at least alleviate the amount of weapons we have in the wrong hands.
Because the truth of the matter is, firearms are never going away. My father very confidently assured me that there’s nothing any official can do to prevent firearms. Even if the government indefinitely bans the retail of all firearms across the country, the black market is still very alive.
Foreign imports of contraband will increase bringing more crime and just as much violence. We can’t deny the facts.
Our country should take several immediate measures in regards to gun control:
Stricter Control Of The Streets
The thought of 20 children being massacred is heart wrenching. However; children are being shot constantly in inner cities and on the streets. Illegal gun trafficking is responsible for approximately 12,000 annual gun murders and 66,000 non-fatal shootings.
Where do these guns come from? Corrupt federally licensed gun dealers, straw purchasing (someone with a clean record who purchases a gun on behalf of someone else), and gun shows/private gun sales.
The government needs to pay more attention. Closely watch federally licensed dealers, tighten the gun application process, and stop selling firearms in easily accessible retailers such as Walmart.
Stricter Application Processes
If you truly want a gun, for the right purposes, the government should make you work for it. My father has no problem with undergoing any application process, and is more than okay with the idea of reregistering his permit every year.
Extend the application process to a full year. Only sell firearms in select few tightly government monitored retail locations. Someone who wants to purchase a gun to do damage at the last minute, will be unable to do so
Implement A Mental Health Evaluation
As a part of the gun application process, I feel as if you should get a letter of recommendation from a psychologist who only gives you a seal of approval after you undergo methodical fact finding and careful clinical evaluations that are carefully monitored.
Yes, this process should also be renewed every year. Worried that the cost of obtaining a notarized doctor's note is too high? You're already willing to pay hundreds for a gun, what's a little more?
Pay More Attention
Finally, and I feel, most importantly, we need to pay more attention. Parents should know when their children are unstable and in need of help, friends should be aware, colleagues, anyone. The number of people who would rather not say anything because they don’t want to get involved only hurt the masses in the long run.
The government also needs to do its part. Pay more attention to the corrupt, educate and spend more time and effort attempting to prevent a tragedy like this again. Every slightest bit truly does help.
Surprised that a legal gun owner is so level headed and in agreement with gun control laws? Don't be. There's more good people in this world than bad, and I personally feel that the legal and careful gun owners should do their part to help educate the masses and push to enforce the laws that they're all in favor of.
Ally Batista | Elite.
Photo Credit: Getty Images