LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Balanced approach needed in gun control debate

Delaware has been my home for 18 years. I’ve come to have a deep connection to my home, and I care deeply for its well-being.

In the wake of recent tragedies, such as the Sandy Hook shooting, gun control has been a hot topic across the country. It is easy for many to say that these horrors could be prevented by banning firearms, but others, like myself, who use guns, who participate in shooting sports or rely on them for security, have a greater insight into the impact of firearms.

Regulations on firearms are essential to a healthy society. They are critical to the security of the state, and of its people.

It is, however, also critical that these laws provide for civic security without infringing upon the rights of the citizens. It is easy for many to formulate solutions to these issues that trample upon the rights of others, be it the right to firearms or the right to feel safe in your community. With that being said, I believe that Delaware’s laws should be reformed, to better provide for the safety of Delaware’s communities, in a manner that will satisfy all citizens, rather than satisfying one half or the other.

On average, the United States has a high crime rate. It is a shame that it takes violent and devastating acts to get the attention of lawmakers, and to warrant the application of reforms. In the case of Delaware, the rate of gun-related deaths has increased by over 30 percent in the past five years. Delaware also ranks 23 out of 51 on the U.S. government’s list of major locations for gun trafficking.

Delaware law already provides protection, denying ownership to those with a history of family violence, prohibiting the sale of firearms to the mentally ill and requiring regulation training courses to acquire a concealed-carry permit. Also, as a “may issue” state, the government can deny permits for any reason, further screening those who apply, to prevent future danger. These laws are tried and effective, but in a dangerous and uncertain world, changes must be made to protect the interests of all citizens, regardless of which side of the issue they are on.

Originally, waiting periods were placed on handguns in order to better screen buyers, as most violent crime involving weapons were conducted with handguns. The waiting period would also discourage irresponsible purchases, further preventing future incidents, However, in recent years, more and more crimes are being committed with long arms.

This can be credited to the tactical superiority of a long arm, but a larger factors it the greater accessibility, due to the lack of a waiting period. With the implementation of a waiting period on long arms, reckless and irresponsible buyers would be discouraged from obtaining long arms, while better screening buyers for criminal history and intent. Expanding necessary background checks, as well as applying a new waiting period, would provide for better public security and peace of mind, while still not infringing on the rights of gun owners.

The program would require little change of behalf of state government, as waiting periods are already being utilized to screen buyers of handguns. The majority of opposition to the reforms would come from either political extreme of the issue. Some would argue that reforms are not enough, calling for prohibitions and bannings. A it stands, bans would not prevent criminals from committing crimes, simply forcing them to find alternate means acquiring weapons.

Guns can be stolen or illegally bought. Prohibitions would only punish law-abiding gun owners, and would make it harder for those who need a source of security.

The other side of the issue would argue that firearm regulations are restrictive enough. Violent crimes are becoming more frequent across the nation, and changing times require us to interpret events and determine what is best for the public. Expanding waiting-period laws would not infringe the rights of law-abiding citizens who wish to purchase firearms, while better screening potential buyers.

These concerns are understandable. Guns have amassed their own subculture, of which I am a part. Fluctuations in gun laws are intimidating, and create great unrest in the community. It is important to reassure gun owners that the guns they legally own are not in danger of being taken, and that reforms will not endanger their rights.

Laws of this type should focus on finding equilibrium, to find a balance that satisfies those it is meant to protect. It was a great concern and topic for debate among the framers of the Constitution as to which principle was most important: security or liberty. No law is completely perfect, as there will always be those who aren’t satisfied by the result. That being said, making these reforms would help satisfy both sides of the debate.

Gun control could be strengthened to improve public safety and peace of mind, while not infringing upon the rights of gun owners and future buyers. This would send an important message to the public, reassuring them that their government cares about their safety and security and will stand by their constitutional rights.

Joseph Sullivan
Bridgewater College
Bridgewater, Va.

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