This week’s question: In the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history, is more gun control the answer? What else can or should be done to prevent such tragedies?
While gun control is certainly a politically charged issue, I believe common sense should prevail and that we need to respect our constitutional right to bear arms. I feel strongly that automatic weapons need to be severely curtailed and hopefully eliminated over time, except for the military.
Alejandro Badia, orthopedic surgeon and founder, OrthoNOW
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The proliferation of mass shootings in the U.S. has led us to question our gun control laws and their involvement with multi-faceted complex issues such as mental health concerns and extremist beliefs. More gun control, while not the only answer, will help mitigate the frequency and severity of these tragedies. The ability for private citizens to own or purchase assault weapons should be eliminated. These types of weapons have no legitimate purpose other than the potential of inflicting mass causalities and should be used only for military purposes by trained service personnel.
Peggy Benua, general manager, Dream South Beach
The fact that some persons can easily obtain high-powered weapons with the intent to cause harm and death to others is senseless and inexcusable. Some additional gun controls and background checks would be a short term step. However, as a nation we must examine and explore every option to help decrease the appalling number of violent acts that are tied to guns. We appear to be on the path to becoming a gun-obsessed culture. Can we help one another — beginning with our children — develop non-violent responses to anger or frustration? Can we help one another explore rationally the systemic causes of bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia and other evils that corrupt the souls of our families, communities and nation? It’s a shame that financial resources are not allocated for our schools to provide documented and successful developmental programming, such as that provided by the local Peace Education Foundation. The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi reminds us powerfully and poignantly: Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
Sister Linda Bevilacqua, president, Barry University
I deeply respect the U.S. Constitution, which is a brilliant document created by equally brilliant people. However, I believe we must look at our laws in terms of today. There are enough instances of innocent people being killed by someone wielding an assault weapon that we need to control how these weapons are distributed.
Meg Daly, president and CEO, Friends of The Underline
In the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history, more gun control is not the answer. To suggest that it is is the essence of naiveté. People who do not value their life will never value anybody else’s. Gun control be damned. Suffice it to say, the question is not what else can or should be done to prevent such tragedies, but instead, the question is “Why are differences of opinion about sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political party association and ethnic designation becoming excuses for taking the lives of other human beings?” The answer lies not in stronger laws but in more humane tolerance for differences. And this begins with me and you.
T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami
Clearly, we should be doing a better job at keeping guns out of the hands of potential domestic and foreign terrorists, but this issue is much larger than gun control. And there is no easy solution as our enemies are crazed zealots who are desensitized to the sanctity of human life. Such tragedies create opportune moments to blame guns, but the truth is that we need to do a better job tracking those on terror watch lists and persons of interest. We also need to educate the general public to help us identify potential terrorists by expanding programs like Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something.” All of this will require more manpower and intelligence assets than our country currently has. We need strong borders, a strong military stance against the groups that encourage this behavior, and we need to “arm” the FBI both legally and technologically to continue fighting this. If this means disruption of what some perceive as personal freedoms, then so be it. We are at war against an enemy that has changed the rules of engagement. We need to fight them much more aggressively, and everyone needs to take some level of responsibility.
Mario Murgado, president and CEO, Brickell Motors
For a developed country, our frequency of gun-related violence is unacceptable. While respecting the Constitution and our rights as individuals, we must establish more stringent gun laws pertaining to the tracking of sales, background checks, and the types of arms which are available on the market.
Steve Perricone, president and owner, Perricone’s Restaurant
It is a complex problem beyond the scope of a short answer, and if there is a solution, it probably lives at the intersection of gun control, mental healthcare issues and cultural bias. We live in different circumstances than those that confronted post revolutionary North Americans. Clearly, at a minimum, our country needs more stringent gun control to create barriers to purchasing firearms for people with a history of criminal activity or psychological issues. Concurrently, our political leaders need to reinforce the message that diversity and tolerance have been among America’s greatest virtues since it’s inception.
Craig Robins, president and CEO, Dacra
The massacre in Orlando, just like each of the mass shootings in our country that preceded it, has several, or a combination of things in common. A total disregard for human life, mental illness, domestic and globally inspired terrorism, and prejudice have all been reflected in these terrible events. What they all have in common is easy access to assault weapons that have no place in a civil society. Eliminating assault weapons and access to large quantities of ammunition and other gun control measures is one area to start, but it is not the only answer. We must work thoroughly in the aforementioned areas to prevent such tragedies.
David Samson, president, Miami Marlins
As a nation, we owe it to those impacted by this tragedy to do everything in our power to prevent attacks like this from happening in the future, and while everyone wants an immediate solution, this is a long-term problem that requires a comprehensive, long-term approach. Any such approach must be based on the advice of law enforcement, counter-terrorism and mental health experts and must be implemented in a way that balances public safety and civil liberty.
Eric Silagy, president and CEO, Florida Power & Light