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Heritage Foundation Shows There is No Need for Sweeping Overhaul of Gun Laws

The Heritage Foundation offered a powerful reminder last week that gun owners and all citizens need to hear: When gun control advocates sell the notion that we need a radical and sweeping overhaul of gun laws, we shouldn’t be buying it.

Americans need that warning because they are literally drowning in a flood of misinformation propagated by progressives and their ally, the mainstream media.

Legal Policy Analyst for the Heritage Foundation Amy Swearer calls for a more level-headed approach to gun control. We agree with her that keeping guns away from dangerous people is vital, but that danger doesn’t warrant the direction this country is going when it comes to gun control.

Swearer writes, “The U.S. doesn’t need to tear down its existing framework, repeal the Second Amendment, or otherwise impose drastic burdens on the fundamental rights of law-abiding Americans.”

Balancing the 2nd Amendment with the rest of Constitution

No reasonable gun owner believes there should be no control of who can and cannot possess a firearm. There are plenty of laws that state convicted felons and the mentally ill are an exception.

The most pressing problem in our society today is not to invent new laws in a knee-jerk response to tragedies like Parkland. It is to enforce laws that have existed years but go improperly enforced.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits people, who have been “formally and involuntarily committed to mental health or drug treatment by a court, mental health board, or other legal commission,” from owning a gun.

In 1993 Congress established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (the NICS index). That database of mental health and criminal records was the gold standard states use to disqualify a person from purchasing a gun.

Properly employed these two factors are more than sufficient, leaving no need for new laws.

However, since the school shooting rampage in Parkland, Florida in 2018 there has been a renewed call for new gun laws. The narrative encouraged by progressives and the mainstream media is that new gun laws would have prevented such a tragedy.

Accompanying the call for more gun laws is the assumption that gun-related school deaths are at the “highest level there have ever been.”

A BBC News article begins with the attention-grabbing title, “2018 ‘worst year for US school shootings.” In the first few paragraphs, it repeats the popular narrative that America’s schools have seen an unprecedented rise in gun-related death.

To buttress its claim, the BBC sites US studies as varied as Education Week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the US Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

In good old American mainstream media fashion the BBC article reported that none of these studies agreed on the actual numbers but buried that beneath a headline that reads: “113 people [were] killed or injured in school shootings in the United States” in 2018.

Despite the incessant drumbeat of claims that America is in a gun crisis that demands new gun laws, the numbers show something different. Studies by Emma E. Fidel of Northwestern University led her to conclude “this is not an epidemic.”

Mass gun deaths are indeed on the increase. By the federal governments’ definition, a mass occurs when four or more people are killed, excluding the assailant within 24 hours. Friedel and her colleague, James Alan Fox, found that mass murders occur between 20 and 30 times a year, with one of them being an incident that occurred at a school.

Rather than being the highest they have ever been, the study shows school gun-related deaths reached a record level in 1992 and have declined ever since.

To put this in perspective, Fox reminds his readers that more children are killed each year in bicycle accidents and pool drownings than by guns.

Gunfire killed averaging the last 25 years, “about 10 students at school.”

This in no way lessens the tragedy of losing a child to a senseless killing. It reminds us that when the dust has settled after such a rare shooting, throwing bad gun laws on top of unenforced constitutional ones does nothing to solve a problem that does not exist. At least in the way the media frames it.

Swearer says, “Society too often underuses the mechanisms already in place.”

In other words: quit churning out new laws and enforce the ones we already have.


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