On politics: Gun debate rages on (opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

On politics: Gun debate rages on (opinion)

Jim Clark
On Politics

In response to the tragic massacre of high school students in Florida the National Review published an article headlined: "'If You See Something, Say Something' only works if authorities do something."

The piece points out that the alleged shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, had a history of brandishing guns and knives, bragging about it on social media, and had been expelled from school for bringing bullets in his backpack. The school had earlier sent an email to teachers warning against allowing him on campus with a backpack and a teacher told authorities that "there were problems with him last year threatening students."

According to the Broward County mayor Cruz was treated at a mental health clinic but hadn't been back for more than a year. National Review points out that before mass shootings at Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Isla Vista and Sandy Hook those familiar with the perpetrators told authorities what they saw and heard but nothing was done about the threat. The weapon used in the attack was a semi-automatic rifle which Cruz purchased legally, according to law enforcement officials. So were the weapons used in the earlier school shootings.

The tragedy prompted gun ban advocates to again preach abolition. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and former Congresswoman and gun victim Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., demanded congress take immediate action. Those who want to repeal the Second Amendment have a steep hill to climb. Neither politics nor facts are on their side.

America's history of quashing "evil" hasn't worked so well. In 1920, driven by the Anti Saloon League and the Women's' Christian Temperance Union, the U.S. adopted the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution which banned booze (Democrat President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the measure but was overridden).

What result? Crime and violence exploded and the rich still got to drink. In 1933, led by Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt, the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed.

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Gun control advocates point to Australia's gun confiscation program as the ideal. However, according to the Sporting Shooters' Association of Australia the "buy back" only confiscated 19 percent of weapons. Worse yet, a black market for firearms developed. The Adelaide Advertiser newspaper reported: "Motorcycle gang members and convicted criminals barred from buying guns have no difficulty obtaining illegal firearms — including fully automatic weapons."

Switzerland has no reported massacres, yet has a permitting system almost like America's. Purchase of a firearm requires a valid identification showing residence and a current criminal background record. As in the U.S. fully automatic weapons are prohibited. Granted this is a form of registration which is opposed by the National Rifle Association, maybe it's time to take another look.

President Trump, Attorney General Sessions and Florida Gov. Rick Scott may be on the right track. They expressed concern about getting a handle on mental health issues that seem to have triggered most if not all domestic school massacres.

Firearm confiscation is not going to insulate innocent children from home-made bombs in pressure cookers. Perhaps Good Samaritan laws could be enacted to protect law enforcement against privacy violations allowing intervention when Cruz's mental problems were manifested to and reported by others.

Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at tahoesbjc@aol.com.