Our cover story from last week, featuring the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and its long-standing efforts to defend constitutional rights on a wide range of issues, failed to touch on one hot-button issue: gun control. Because both state and federal constitutions codify citizens' right to bear arms, the issue of determining what controls, if any, are appropriate to protect the public from homicidal maniacs rests in the hands largely of legislators, not judges. That's why we asked two of our interns, Matt Louden and David Cerola, to ask a couple local activists who have strong opinions on this debate to outline their positions. Excerpts from Cerola's conversation with follows, broken down into three general category areas. For a different perspective on the gun reform debate, check out this interview featuring Andrew Horning, Indiana Libertarian Party member and former U.S. Senate candidate.:
I would love to see more health statistics related to gun violence. All of those things are a part of this, just as any major problem in society has more than one side.
Anyone has the right to own a firearm. I think where the NRA finds opposition is, first of all, in terms delineating which guns should be available and shouldn't - It's just open to any firearm you could consider. But there are exceptions to that obviously. I can't buy a SAM (surface to air missile) and I can't buy a bazooka. You know it's just common sense with these laws, and you shouldn't be allowed to have a machine gun.
On the assault weapons issue there is no clear definition of what a 'assault weapon' is, which also (the definition) varies from state to state. We're talking about military-style assault weapons that can kill a large number of people in a short amount of time. Those are part of the ban from 1994, though a lot of our opposition says the ban didn't do much in terms of curving gun violence, there were a lot of loop holes in that legislation where, if slight modifications were made to the gun, it would be acceptable to be sold.
When you step back and listen to the lunacy of both sides arguing about how fast a gun can kill someone, we have to step back and say, "We shouldn't even be talking about guns killing people." I do think the assault weapons ban will be tough, it's going to be the hardest one we'll try to get through. I think background checks need to be strengthened, even a majority of the NRA are in favor of that. If you take a look at our polls, we do garner favorable support for these common-sense solutions.
Another point, nothing is stopping anyone from walking into a gun shop and buying 10 firearms, then going right back out on the street to sell them. Though it's not part of our manifesto, there are some Hoosiers who have been involved in the battle of gun control and they themselves have been trying to limit the amount of gun purchases per month/year.
One thing about the NRA, they had a huge opportunity to really change their message or deliver a message in a way that would bring respect to responsible gun owners. Because I think responsible gun owners are definitely caught in the middle here. They could have said that perhaps they do need to stop and take a look at how current gun control might be loose, but to come out in the full defensive saying guns need to be everywhere; I think it wasn't the right message. They continue to back pedal... They put out a videogame, an app about target shooting while in the same breath they say videogames are responsible for gun violence. There have been studies that show that there is no link to videogames. We're going to see a lot of back in forth in the future.
No, I don't think more guns is the answer and I definitely don't think guns in our schools is the answer.
Teachers don't want to carry guns; students don't want to see them. We take our children to school every day and we need to know they're safe, and they need to feel safe as well. It's not a good solution, and I don't think it's one the American public will stand for frankly.
They (the NRA) made it quite clear in their press conference, but they didn't take questions. Their response is overall defensive at best. The launched a campaign called "Stand in Sight" to take this on. They made the commercial that talked about the President's daughters. That was just in poor taste. But it's complicated and the NRA does have a lot of money. They are backed by gunning manufacturers.
It's not that all guns should be taken away from our culture, because they are a part of our culture. It's how we talk about them, how responsible we are with them, and what we do with them. Those types of subjects are important.
I am fine if you want to have a firearm in your house, that's your Second Amendment right. I believe that we really have to think about whose hands guns should be in and how we take care of that.
What we said is, in terms of gun legislation, this is where we will take a stand as moms and we feel like we can take action. There are other organizations that we are partnered with at the national level... and I think all of us working together is key to finding the answers we need. And as moms or organizers we get together and, frankly, when we get mad we get shit done, right? That is what we're about. We want things done and we want them done now.
Moms Demand Action seeks: 1) a ban on assault weapons and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, as well as a ban on online ammunition sales; 2) required background checks for all gun and ammunition purchases 3) reports on sales of large quantities of ammunition to the ATF 4) to counter gun industry lobbyists' efforts to weaken gun laws at the state level.
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