Voters need to fight against NRA, minimal gun laws

Credit: Courtesy of Edward via Flicker Credit: Courtesy of Edward via Flicker

After yet another mass shooting occurred this past week, this time in San Bernardino, Calif., the debate on gun control has been reinvigorated once again. While gun control itself is a contentious issue, piecemeal gun regulation often ends up out of the spotlight, allowing special interest groups like the NRA to spout (nonsense) slogans like “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!” and change the focus of the debate to gun bans and away from laws that absolutely have to be passed.

One of the more egregious examples of gun companies being given too much free reign is a 1996 budget bill that prevented the study of gun research by the CDC. Since then, the government is not even allowed to produce reports on gun control, let alone use the potential information to create good, informed laws. Maybe the data will find that not everyone has enough guns and everyone should be required to purchase five automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines and carry them at all times to defend themselves. Maybe research will say we should ban guns entirely. We have no way of knowing what information the government will produce and even the former congressman who pushed the provision, Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), considers his efforts a mistake. However, these lapses in the law just don’t go away.

Mandates from internal, non-defaceable serial numbers to gun registries are just common sense. For the same reason we keep track of what license plate is on what insurance plan, it is obviously a good idea to keep track of what gun belongs to what person. Key Evidence in the argument against registries is Canada’s horribly run long-gun registry, created in 1998. The record-keeping errors and cost of hunting down every gun, considering that very old models were not even being made anymore, caused costs to go through the roof. America’s larger pool of gun ownership and cultural differences between the U.S. and Canada will make it even harder to do a similar thing in America. However, this was a long-gun registry of shotguns and rifles. Canada’s handgun registry is doing just fine, as is the handgun registry of every other high-income country in the world. The point is moot.

Detractors may point to San Bernardino's location in California, which has strict gun laws, but it’s so easy to just go to Nevada, get a gun, and drive it home that this particular response is meaningless.

We don’t allow any other dangerous machinery companies free range. You need a license — which requires affirmative proof of capacity — to drive a car, operate construction equipment, and even open lemonade stands in some states. Why on earth would a gun, a machine explicitly designed for causing catastrophic injuries, get a free pass?

Of course, the answer is the NRA’s full coffers — courtesy of gun corporations — and excellent PR department that shift focus from meaningful steps in regulation to less-popular, full-blown gun control. But corporations don’t run the government unless we let them. Maybe the only way to stop a bad congressperson with a gun lobby is a good citizen with a vote.