Friday, 18 January 2013 00:00
After the horrific massacre of 20 innocent children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, a majority of Americans support stricter gun laws regarding assault weapons and background checks. The dysfunctional US Congress, however, is unlikely to make progress due to perceived power of the NRA, which is supported by gun manufactures and survivalists.
It is time for each state to take appropriate action that can best protect our children and other citizens. In his State of the State speech, Governor Cuomo took the first step by proposing to close loopholes in the state’s ban on assault rifles and high capacity magazines, as well as universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Cuomo said this is not taking away people’s guns, noting that he owns a shotgun for hunting. Nor is it taking away people’s handguns to protect their homes. It is an effort to keep military weapons, like the one I carried in Vietnam, out of the hands of the general public. If gun advocates must use military weapons, like the AR-15 or the Bushmaster, I suggest the use be restricted to secure gun clubs where they can be stored and used for target practice.
I also believe that common sense gun control legislation must be combined with appropriate support and resources for the mentally ill. It will take years, if not decades, to get dangerous assault rifles and oversized magazines out of circulation, even with aggressive buy-back programs, which virtually eliminated similar massacres in Australia. Better mental health programs are not only the humane things to do, but in the long run they will also reduce overall costs to society. It is cheaper to support the mentally ill versus the cost of incarceration and the risk to public safety.