Long Way To Go - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1980266

Long Way To Go

It is good news that common sense gun violence prevention legislation in Congress is gaining bipartisan support, although it has a long way to go, because most such legislation has been opposed on partisan political lines.

Former Long Island U.S. Representative Peter King, quoted in Newsday, addressed the failure of Congress to renew the ban on assault weapons in 2004: “It started with the 1994 election, where Democrats realized how lethal of an issue it was, Republicans saw how they could gain votes in those (conservative leaning) districts.” Getting elected was more important than trying to solve the massive gun violence problem we have in America.

Representative Chris Jacobs from a suburban Buffalo district is a “profile in courage” for supporting a ban on assault weapons after the Buffalo massacre — and has paid the price by declining to run again.

Banning military assault and similar weapons shouldn’t be so political, as even Republican/Conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision: “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited … It is not a right to keep and carry any weapons whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever reason.”

Some defenders of assault weapons maintain that they are necessary to hunt down wild boar and other predatory animals; if so, then issue special permits for such use. Gun owners don’t need such killing machines to protect their homes or hunt deer.

Nor should universal background checks be a problem: Any law-abiding citizen will easily pass such a check and be issued a permit. One of the virtues of the bill under negotiation is that it will allow more extensive background checks for purchasers under age 21 years, which might have prevented the murderers in Buffalo and Uvalde from slaughtering the innocent. And allowing government agencies more time to complete such a check is a small price to pay if it will prevent criminals, terrorists, or mentally unstable people from obtaining them.

Hopefully, the legislation being negotiated is just a start, because we have a long way to go in the fight against our gun violence epidemic.

Gene Bernstein


Bernstein is a member of the board of Brady United to Prevent Gun Violence — Ed.