Some incremental gun law reform? - Queens Chronicle: Editorials

Some incremental gun law reform?

Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2019 10:30 am

We’ve been here so many times before, and there’s little reason to believe anything will change this time either. The country suffers a mass shooting — in this case two in less than one day, and another one a week before those — and nothing happens. The usual suspects send their thoughts and prayers, the usual suspects denigrate prayers and those who believe in them, and nothing is done to make it harder for sick people to commit massacres using high-powered rifles.

The only exception in recent years is the federal ban on bump stocks, the accessories that allow semiautomatic rifles, like the AR-15 and civilian versions of the AK-47, to mimic fully automatic fire. That was done in response to the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting that killed 58, wounded 422 with gunfire and injured 429 more as people fled. The ban took effect last March.

But no other federal gun control laws have been enacted. No restriction on the number of bullets magazines can hold. No “red flag” laws allowing officials to seize the weapons of those who clearly are losing their minds and becoming dangerous, according to their own friends and families. No universal background checks that apply to personal gun transfers too.

And of course no ban on weapons such as the AR-15 and civilian AK-47, which differ from their military counterparts primarily in that they cannot fire automatically. The trigger has to be squeezed for each round — yet the perpetrator of last weekend’s massacre in Dayton, Ohio managed to kill nine people in just about 30 seconds using a semiautomatic. And if the police hadn’t been so close by, and he had been able to get into the club he was trying to enter, it would have been far worse.

Having such destructive weapons in the hands of young men, so young their minds are still developing, so alienated that, in the case of the alleged El Paso, Texas, shooter for one, they turn to white supremacy and feed their hate online, clearly is not something the Framers of the Constitution meant or even could have contemplated when they wrote the Second Amendment.

But the chances of passing a new assault weapons ban, one more effective than the defunct 1994 law, which gunmakers worked around, remain just about nil, thanks to Republicans.

Even they, however, seem to be softening their views on background checks and red flag laws after the most recent incidents, which together killed 34, plus two of the three shooters. Certainly the country wants change. Even President Trump appears open to some gun safety reform (except of course, when he doesn’t). We offer our hopes and prayers that he and Congress can agree on new laws in these two areas at least, before the next horror occurs.