ANOTHER OPINION: Gun Owners Welcome Gun Laws

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BY STATE REP. RON WATERS/ Much has been said and written in favor and in opposition of gun control since the Sandy Hook tragedy unfolded. The heinous crime has cracked the half-century-long gun debate wide open. Vice President Joe Biden has issued a set of gun-control recommendations to the President, and I hope, simply, that common sense prevails.

Newtown, Conn., is just one of many communities that have experienced gun violence and its carnage. Furthermore, Aurora, Col., is but one of hundreds of communities across this great nation that has seen firsthand the terror an individual can cause in mere seconds when wielding a firearm equipped with high-capacity magazines. Philadelphia has been a war zone for years, so my colleagues and I in the Pennsylvania legislature cannot allow this conversation to subside without first addressing the issues through legislation.

STATE REP. Ron Waters, left, seen here with judicial candidate Omar Sabir.

Guns don’t kill people, people do; therefore, “people” should be at the heart of any gun debate. As a public servant, it is my duty to be inclusive and to address any issue from a position that encompasses the interests of many, so it is clear to me the “people” at the heart of this gun debate must include both the victim and the criminal; the individual and the public.

A constitutional argument over gun rights limits the scope of the debate to ownership and ownership alone, while focusing the discourse on public safety allows us to address what responsible gun ownership should look like in a society made up of “people.”

There are responsible gun owners out there. These are the people who have clean bills of health, visit doctors for yearly examinations, adhere to safety requirements when firing and store their weapons in childproof locations that are fully secured and locked. These people are also mindful of others who may attempt to access their weapons and are honest and concerned about any security threat to their firearms. These people realize situations and environments change and it is not enough simply to assess the threat to public safety at the time a weapon is purchased; rather, they understand gun ownership is a daily responsibility.

There is no denying that irresponsible gun ownership leads to the type of reckless violence seen in Colorado and Connecticut last year and in the city of Philadelphia on a nightly basis.

Gun-crime numbers are staggering. With over 600,000 firearms being purchased or privately transferred each year in the Commonwealth, it is in the best interest of all of our citizens, including those responsible gun owners, to have gun laws that are sensible. This includes: improved, thorough background checks; detailed, regular mental-health evaluations for gun owners and potential gun buyers and similar evaluations for family members that share residency; improved methods of documenting private gun transfers; and, perhaps the most controversial, restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

As I prepare to introduce a military-style assault-weapons bill in the coming legislative session, I understand these types of restrictions may not be popular amongst some gun owners. But a sensible approach to gun laws dictates that firearms with reasonable recreational, self-defense and sporting uses be protected, while military-style guns are nothing more than killing machines in the hands of irresponsible civilians.

Addressing mental health and criminal behavior are the next logical steps and will require the assistance of every law-abiding citizen if we wish to cultivate an environment where innocent children, women and men are safe in their homes and in the public sphere.

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3 Responses to ANOTHER OPINION: Gun Owners Welcome Gun Laws

  1. Anytime you here a politician use the words “reasonable” or “sensible” in reference to anti-gun legislation, it is time to bend over and “spread ’em” because you know what is coming next. Funny thing is these same clowns never use those words when the betray the common trust with raging deficits, higher taxes and more spending.

    January 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm

  2. In anticipation of your proposed legislation, more prospective gun owners than ever are applying for licenses. People do not want to leave their own protection up to the police in their own communities.

    I hope that the controls proposed by the President and you as a legislator for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will make an impact. If perpetrators of crimes did not have guns in their hands, many deaths would be prevented. Good luck moving forwarrd with your efforts to make our citizens safer in this dangerous, gun-toting society.

    Michael E. Bell
    January 22, 2013 at 2:55 pm

  3. While the headline of this article may not be false in its statement, it is a misleading statement that is an attempt to make it appear that most gun owners approve of limiting or restricting their second amendment rights. And that is 100% false.

    In one statement, Rep. Waters calls gun owners responsible and the next he calls them irresponsible. These kinds of statements are political double-talk that are used to justify introducing feel-good laws that in fact will have no impact on crime.

    When it comes to crime, the US does a pretty good job of recording all the data and making it available to the public. This is where gun-grabbing politicians and citizens go blind. The FBI has again announced that violent crime continues to decline based on the latest data (2011). Gun sales have been rising in huge numbers while violent crime continues to fall, yet some think we need more gun laws. If this were your argument in a court of law, you would be assured to lose. Maybe Rep. Waters could share with us the data on how many crimes were committed with rifles in Phila.

    And while mental health is of concern when addressing firearms, it does not mean that you have every gun owner go to a mental-health screening to get approval to own guns. You cannot burden 99.9% of citizens due to the actions of a few.

    And to the responder Michael I say; this gun-toting society is what keeps those who may wish to do you harm or threaten you, honest.

    Citizens in Philadelphia and in particular the African American community need to realize that all of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution apply to everyone and they need to stand with all Americans in their fight to protect these rights. If the ACLU stood next to the NRA at a media event. maybe more African Americans would rise and be counted in the fight to “keep and bear arms”.

    January 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm

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