This week, I had another column ready to go.
But in light of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, I want to instead revisit the case for some common sense reforms on firearms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39,773 people died from gunshot wounds in 2017 in the United States — over 100 every day. Since 1970 more Americans have died from guns than in all our wars put together. The Dayton shooting was the 251st mass shooting in the past 216 days.
For all of my adult life I have been a gun owner. Like most Americans, I think some responsibilities go along with the right to own and use guns. Though it may not seem like it from the lack of progress to date, there is overwhelming common ground in the United States on firearm regulation reform.
Most Americans support gun ownership by law-abiding adults — 87% for to 11% against, with the rest undecided — but strong majorities here in the West and most law enforcement agencies also favor reasonable restrictions to go with gun ownership. Unfortunately, majority rule does not seem to apply.
Completion of universal background checks for all gun sales is supported by almost everyone — 88%, with only 6% against and others undecided. Currently, most private sales can proceed without a check.
Including private firearms transactions in the background check process, supported by 90%, would close a loophole on millions of gun purchases. Today any gun sale can proceed if the background check is not complete in three days.
Those who are on Social Security disability for mental health need to be included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database so they cannot legally buy guns.
People who are on the suspected terrorist no-fly list definitely need to be in the NICS system so they cannot legally buy guns. That is supported by 70% Americans, versus 20% against.
The FBI terrorist watch list contains just over 100,000 people. Only about 2,700 are American citizens. I really do not understand the objection to restricting gun purchases by suspected terrorists.
By the same measure — 70% for compared with 20% against — Americans favor limiting the capacity of magazines.
Most proposals and some existing state regulations require a 10-round limit, which is still a lot. Since the federal ban on high-capacity magazines expired in 2004, civilian sales have skyrocketed. The Dayton shooter is said to have used a 100-round magazine, which is now coming on the market.
Congress recently loosened restrictions on the CDC using federal public health funds to study gun violence, but money has not been appropriated for the work. Basic science and knowledge would help us to get this right.
Enforcing existing laws to prohibit gun sales to fugitives from justice, as well as convicted spouse and child abusers, is supported by 84% of Americans.
Secure gun storage is the standard for responsible gun owners. Requiring it for all is supported by 76% of Americans. Gun violence restraining orders by law enforcement agencies can remove firearms from individuals deemed unstable. A mandatory waiting period of three days for gun purchases is supported by 78% of Americans, with 14 percent against.
Those reasonable measures can be legislated and implemented nationally with little impact on responsible law-abiding gun owners. Gun deaths are much lower in states and nations that have adopted those measures. While they will not end all gun-related violence, they will result in fewer gun deaths to our children and others in America.
The American people and our elected leaders have not been able to come together to have a conversation on gun violence that leads to progress. We have failed to live up to the standards of reasoned deliberation that should be the soul of American civic discourse. If we see ourselves as enemies and not countrymen and -women, we will not solve problems together.