We asked the following question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network recently: Is it time for stricter gun laws? Thanks for all of your responses. Below is a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.
It is way past the time for stricter gun laws. A majority of Americans support stricter gun laws. The NRA has a political and financial stranglehold on our government. We, by far lead the rest of the civilized world in gun homicides. The great American myth is that more guns make us safer. The facts simply do not support that supposition. According to FBI statistics, if there is a gun in the house it is much more likely that weapon will be used in a domestic dispute, a suicide or an accidental shooting than to defend against a criminal perpetrator.
Donald Allen, Miami
It has been established that no amount of legislation would prevent a madman from killing, even if all weapons are confiscated. It is not a matter of new laws but the strict enforcement and scope of the current ones and, if someone commits a crime using a gun, there should be a mandatory, no plea bargaining, of five years in the federal penitentiary on top of any other punishment. Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, South Dakota, Vermont, Kentucky and Virginia are “open carry” states with low gun criminal incidents by comparison with Chicago and New York with the toughest laws and the highest number of gun-related crimes. Enforcing the current laws is all that is needed.
Philip Lecours, Coral Gables
The Second Amendment to the Constitution refers to a well-regulated militia not to individual gun ownership. Guns should be regulated in the same way automobile ownership is regulated. Each gun should have a unique serial number. Each gun owner should have that gun registered, the gun owner should be licensed and pass a test proving that they know how to use the gun. Gun owners should be insured in the same way that automobile owners are insured. There should be penalties for not meeting these requirements.
Theresa Lianzi, Hollywood
How much stricter can we make our laws? Every school that has suffered a mass shooting was in a state where it is illegal to carry a gun on campus. What has to be addressed are the HIPPA laws and the right of privacy for the mentally ill or disturbed. After 9/11 we were told, “If you see something, say something.” That should apply to people who say and do stupid things but are protected under the First Amendment or the HIPPA laws. More laws only work for the law abiding, not the criminal, and certainly not the mentally ill, disturbed, imbalanced or whatever.
Robert Reyes, Homestead
Gun violence is not an abstraction for me. In 2004 I was ambushed and shot, point blank in the back, with a .45 in the hands of a prohibited purchaser. My life has been in upheaval since then. I don’t want to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. It might be a good idea, though, to enact measures that might prevent guns from getting into the hands of felons and mentally ill people.
David Hart, Miami Beach
As for allowing open carrying, I’d prefer that to concealment. I’d rather see who around me is armed so I can avoid them — crazy or not. I would like to oust every legislator, state and federal, who is owned by the NRA or so afraid of being opposed by it that they won’t stick up for common sense and public safety.
Arnold Markowitz, Miami Shores
Cities like Chicago have gun control and in the South side of the city you see more people shot or killed on a long weekend than in many mass shootings. It has been proven that gun ownership does reduce crime. You have to look no further than where all these mass shootings occur. Almost all of them have occurred in gun-free zones.
Maryanne Balaban, Dania Beach
A better approach to gun control would be a massive public awareness campaign designed to make gun ownership disreputable and anti-social, similar to the way tobacco was attacked as a social menace. It took many years of hammering away with a combination of attacks to make an impact, but far fewer Americas smoke today because smoking was effectively made disreputable.
Seth Gordon, Miami
Australia changed their gun laws after 35 people were murdered in a mass shooting. Since that time, murders and suicides in that nation have gone down tremendously. Why can’t we do that in the U.S.A.?
Sara Leviten, North Miami
As a gun owner myself, I am for having background checks mandatory at gun shows as long as it is done at a nominal cost. Increased gun ownership by legal gun owners can increase citizen safety by allowing citizens to defend themselves in not only the high profile mass shooting crimes, but the more likely scenario of defending their homes and businesses against criminals who commit home invasions and robberies. An armed citizen is a criminal’s worst nightmare.
Bruce Lamberto, North Miami Beach
I have a lot of experience in this area as a former State of Florida probation and parole officer, NRA certified instructor for more than 25 years and with degrees in criminal justice and homeland security.
Here’s a point that should also be considered: Our prisons only have the most violent offenders inside. There is simply not enough room to house everyone who should be in prison. The people you stand next to in the grocery could be on parole. The people you sit next to in church could also be offenders. You’ll likely never know. Unless they re-offend. There are 20,000 gun laws in the books but rarely are they enforced to the full extent of the law. Gun control never equates to crime control. It has nothing to do with “crime” and everything to do with “control.”
The government has to know where the guns are before they can take them. Hitler did that, and bragged about it. Castro did the same thing. For that matter, New York Mayor David Dinkins also did that and promptly used those lists to confiscate firearms. Registration is the sole reason for “universal background checks.” Don’t tell me it can’t happen here.
Jim Kononoff, Miami