It appears that the U.S. is finally ready to enter the late 20th century with its firearms legislation. (Too bad it's the early 21st century).
President Barack Obama recently delivered a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newport, Connecticut. A lone gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, in the shooting spree at Sandy Hook late last year.
Obama's sweeping changes would outlaw assault weapons, call for universal background checks, and carry other measures to reduce gun violence.
The Republicans have been predictably critical, and the gun lobbyists have offered the unreasonable and irrational responses often heard from a lobby group.
Obama's administration isn't looking to ban all weapons, or long guns. They just want to see fewer fatalities related to guns, and a greater sense of safety for Americans.
The U.S. is among the world leaders for firearm fatalities. Coincidentally, it's also has the most firearms per 100 people. Gun advocates will argue that the U.S. should have the most fatalities, since it's one of the most populous nations on the planet, but the firearms death rate is disproportionate with other highly populated nations. Its rates are also much higher with other powerful nations.
Gun control isn't the only solution, and not all forms of gun control are effective. Canadians found that out the hard way with a wasteful long-gun registry that carried few benefits. The U.S. would be wise to learn from Canada's mistake, and avoid such a database.
But there is no need for average Americans to own rapid-fire assault weapons. There's no need for people to purchase armour-piercing bullets. Those weapons and ammunition belong in the Armed Forces. They shouldn't be used for hunting, and they shouldn't be stashed in anybody's basement, shed or garage.
When the founders of the U.S. drafted the Second Amendment, they never envisioned assault weapons, and they never imagined that somebody armed with a Bushmaster would kill 26 people in a school.
The gun lobbyists will gripe and complain about the new legislation, but it only shows that they are utterly out-of-touch with reality. David Keene, the president for the National Rifle Association, suggested that there should be armed guards at schools. How many parents will feel safer knowing that their children are at a school where an armed guard is stationed?
It's unfortunate that the gun lobby has been so powerful in the U.S., that lawmakers have cowed so willingly to the lobbyists, and that it took a tragedy the degree of Sandy Hook for the U.S. to finally move forward with changes to its antiquated gun laws. If anything good can come from Sandy Hook, it's that change will be coming, and that U.S. residents will be able to feel a little safer.