Thursday, April 16, 2009

Laws and regulations designed to protect the public health and safety work

Laws and regulations designed to protect the public health and safety work.   

A driver’s license teaches road safety, vehicle inspections keep dangerous cars off the roads, speed limits safely control the movement of cars.  Consumer product safety standards work to ensure that our food is free from poisons, cribs are safe for babies, radiation doesn’t leak from our microwave ovens.  Building codes protect the integrity of the homes we live in, the roads we drive on, the elevators we ride in.  

Every day, in ways too numerous to mention, policy makers have worked to protect the safety of our communities through laws and regulations.  But there is one area where the public is left vulnerable, one industry that our legislators fail to regulate:  firearms. 

Holes in our gun laws allow for the private sale of guns with no background checks run and no records kept.  Weaknesses in our regulations allow anyone to obtain military-style assault rifles, guns designed specifically to kill as many people as possible in a short amount of time.  Lack of oversight allows for these guns to be equipped with high capacity magazines that hold 20, 30, 50 rounds and more.  Amendments slipped in yearly to appropriations bills keep the ATF under funded, hide crime gun trace information from our police officers, and prohibit the Center for Disease Control from talking about gun control.  

Legislators at both the federal and the state level have been bullied and beaten into submission by a powerful special interest lobby.  It is understandable why the gun lobby acts the way they do.  Their goal, after all, is to sell guns.  What is not understandable is why our policy makers are content to sit back in silence while every year in the United States 30,000 people die from firearms; 70,000 people are shot and injured, leaving physical and emotional scars that last for years; over 300,000 people are victims of armed robbery or aggravated assault with a firearm; and countless others are threatened and intimidated with guns, sometimes by so-called loved ones.  

Our legislators need to be held accountable for their failure to protect the public health and safety.  They have abdicated their responsibility and have helped create a system that allows for easy, unquestioned access to firearms by felons, domestic abusers and others prohibited from owning guns.  

Every time a Dylan Klebold or a Seung-Hui Cho walks into a classroom and kills our innocent children we must hold our legislators to blame for their failure to pass the laws and regulations that would prevent these dangerous individuals from getting guns.  

On this, the tenth anniversary of the killings at Columbine High School and the second anniversary of the massacre at Virginia Tech, let us honor these, and all victims of gun violence by working to enact laws that will prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands and prevent future tragedies.