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Before I begin, let me clarify that my thoughts are mine alone. They are not driven by my party affiliation, as so many seem to think. Guns have been at the centerfold of debates for the better part of the last decade, and likely longer. We hear the common arguments, "guns don't kill people, people kill people," and "the Second Amendment guarantees my right to carry this high-powered semi-automatic weapon." Yes, we do have a Second Amendment, that gives us the right to bear arms. However, it does not preclude us from increasing control on those arms that we are permitted bear.
I have not seen anyone want to ban guns. I have seen people, including myself, that want increased gun control. Gun control and gun bans are not the same. I repeat, gun control and gun bans are not the same. I'm not asking for Congress to round up every weapon owned by a civilian, nor am I suggesting we ban people from ever buying a gun again. I'm simply proposing that, maybe, it shouldn't be so easy to get one.
Hear me out. Guns are powerful tools that have a unique ability to both protect and kill. I don't want anyone to lose his or her right to protect themselves. However, an AR-15 is not a weapon for protection. It's a weapon for killing. Unless you have an entire army coming after you, you don't need a semi-automatic weapon for protection. An AR-15 is not necessary for hunting, either. Yes, some do use it for hunting, but I would certainly like to know what it is they are hunting. I guess the argument comes down to "need" vs. "want." There is no civilian in this country that "needs" a semi-automatic weapon. The police don't even need such a weapon. The fact that civilians can have such a weapon actually puts our first responders in greater danger, when they may be approaching someone who could have access to a semiautomatic weapon.
Are increased background checks such a bad thing? Yes, it may take longer for you to get your weapon. If it saves a life, is that so bad? Do you need that gun right now? Can it wait just a little longer to make sure someone who shouldn't have a gun doesn't get one? My state of Florida has some of the loosest gun laws around, and as such, a 19-year old was permitted to purchase, legally, a semi-automatic weapon. I'm not one to be a stickler for age restrictions, as I believe one should be able to drink at 18. However, the right to have a beer, and the right to own a powerful, dangerous weapon, are not the same, despite those that may make such an argument. Background checks serve a purpose. They make sure that Joe Smith, who wants to purchase a gun, doesn't have a history that would make him suspect. Does he have a history of beating his wife? Does he have a history of mental illness? Is he on the no-fly list? Has he had proper training? Again, guns are a tool, not a toy for someone to pick up and learn on the fly with.
Discussing background checks brings us to the topic of mental health care. Let me be clear, there is something mentally wrong with all of these shooters who have committed mass murders. And our mental health care system is in the toilet, especially in Florida, where we rank 50th out of 50 states. We need to watch for signs of mental illness, and if we see something, say something. We need to better fund our mental health care system. We need to better educate our communities, especially the loved ones of those who have a mental illness. Despite all that, access to weapons for those with mental illnesses is still too easy.
The final portion of this discussion will center on the lack of action on the part of the F.B.I. How do you receive tips and information that something is wrong, and not do anything? You're the highest national security agency, tasked with keeping us all protected, and you turn a blind eye. Had the kid been caught with marijuana, you would have been all over it. But a gun, no. You chose to look away. Hopefully this will serve as a lesson. If someone sees an issue and brings it your attention, you better damn well take action.
To the teens who are courageously coming together to fight back, kudos! You have my full support. I'm more encouraged with our young people with each passing day. We have a bright future ahead of us, with many new ideas, and ways of doing things. These kids are battling back against the N.R.A., and creepy politicians like Marco Rubio. They deserve our support, not just today, but always. We are the future leaders of this country, whether you like it or not. We're not going to do everything the way you want us to do it, just as you didn't when you took over from your preceding generation.
As a final parting thought, the N.R.A. is just an organization. It's not a body with constitutional authority, so stop pretending like we have to listen to it. They have lost their way, and overstayed their welcome. It's time for them to go. Kudos to the companies that are cutting ties with them. It's time. And it's time for a sensible, smart approach to guns. The Second Amendment protects your right to bear arms, but it does not give you the right to be obsessed with guns, nor does it give you the right to be free from a background check. Gun control is not the same as a gun ban. We're simply working toward measures that will keep us safer.
Maybe it's time we put our people first.
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