The right to bear arms is not the right to open fire

The senseless act of violence committed in Tucson, Ariz. last Saturday was a harrowing reminder of why the U.S. government needs to tighten its gun control policy. Any wacko with a state ID and some cash can easily get his or her hands on a weapon, putting our friends, family members and neighbors in danger of gun violence. It takes little effort for anyone to obtain a gun these days. Hell, you can even buy one at Wal-Mart. The issue of gun control needs to be taken more seriously because of its gravity. We cannot predict random violence, nor can we necessarily place blame on anyone but the convicted shooter. “I wouldn’t blame our political rhetoric any more than I would blame heavy metal music for Columbine,” said comedian Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” regarding the shooting in Ariz. The only way to prevent future tragedy is increase regulation on gun sales and conceal-and-carry laws.

Now, mind you, I am not suggesting we take away the unalienable rights of our citizens. The right to bear arms allows Americans to protect themselves, and this is a freedom that should not be abolished. I can understand a person wanting to keep a weapon in their nightstand in case of a home intruder. But they should be banned from all public places, besides gun ranges. Guns have no places in schools, courtrooms or shopping malls.

The process of buying a gun and ammunition needs to be strictly regulated, especially for semi-automatic weapons and gun clips. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., recently proposed Congress put a ban on ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds. Such a law could lessen the magnitude of future cases of gun violence.

Lawmakers also need to strengthen the stipulations of the Brady Law, which requires background checks and a waiting period for people who are purchasing weapons from licensed dealers. According to the Brady Campaign, the law of the same namesake has prevented “over 1.9 million attempts by dangerous people from a gun dealer.” However, criminals are still able to evade the law by obtaining them through unlicensed dealers, like at gun shows, flea markets and the Internet. This needs to stop. Lethal weapons should not be sold using the “honor system.” The government needs to be aware who is selling guns and through which processes.

Not only that, but I believe people who purchase guns should also be required to pass psychological screenings to detect violent tendencies or other potentially dangerous personality traits. Researchers could develop a survey to do so, similar to the evaluations used to diagnose clinical depression.

Why wouldn’t all lawmakers want to implement laws that have the potential to make our society less dangerous?

Four words: the National Rifle Association (NRA). They have so much leeway in the political arena that guns are now the only unregulated consumer product.

“The NRA should change their name to the Assassin’s Lobby, because that’s what they are,” said Bill Maher on the “Tonight Show.” “Nobody needs a gun that fires 31 rounds,” he added.

It’s true the only reason a person would ever need that much ammunition is to go on a bloody rampage. Case in point: Jared Lee Loughner.

Stricter regulations on guns would not necessarily be a cure-all. Shady characters will still be able to get around rules and regulations like they always have, but at least it would be a start. If nothing else, it would certainly make many people feel safer.