Few topics arouse such polarized opinions as gun violence prevention.
Any proposed changes must be first and foremost protective of our Constitutional rights.
The Obama administration has proposed several changes in the hopes of preventing mass shootings. One such measure is universal background checks also known as the gun show loophole, which are supported by over 90 percent of the American population.
In 1999, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA CEO, testified before Congress stating ''it is reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show.''
If virtually everyone agrees, why hasn't this been done?
The majority of Americans also favor strengthening laws with regards to assault weapons and high capacity magazines. The Fraternal Order of Police also backs these measures.
The massacre in Norway, which claimed 77 lives, was perpetrated by a man who had purchased a rifle and pistol with a combined 14 magazines containing 30 rounds each. James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, bought an AR-15 Smith & Wesson assault rifle and tricked it out with a 100-round ultrahigh-capacity magazine. Can we honestly look at ourselves and say we need such firepower for sporting or protection?
Former President Reagan supported the ban on assault weapons, lobbied for its passage and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ruled that it was Constitutional. Again, Democrats and Republicans agreed on this topic but since the ban that was enacted in 1994 and expired in 2004, there has been no new national legislation brought forth. Since President Obama took office in 2008, gun sales and stocks of gun manufacturers have skyrocketed. Why? Because a campaign of fear and paranoia fueled by those who control the NRA has helped raise fears that President Obama is going to somehow take your guns away.
Obviously the gun sales figures since 2008 prove this to be false. The NRA insists in its publications that it is ''not a trade organization'' and that it is ''not affiliated with any firearm or ammunition manufacturers or with any businesses that deal in guns and ammunition.''
The NRA's corporate patrons include 22 firearms manufacturers. The board of directors reads like a who's who of the gun making industry: George Kollitides II, CEO of Freedom Group, which manufactures the Bushmaster semiautomatic that Adam Lanza used in the Newtown massacre; Pete Brownell, president of Brownells, an Internet arms supplier that features ''ultrahigh-capacity magazines''; Ronnie Barrett, CEO of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, whose company produces .50-caliber sniper rifles capable of piercing armor from nearly a mile away. These companies are not concerned with self-protection or sportsmen and women; they are concerned with promoting this type of armory in the name of higher profits. The manufacturers have given nearly $50 million to the NRA to further its agenda and not the everyday gun owner.
Among the world's 23 wealthiest countries, 80 percent of all gun deaths are American deaths and 87 percent of all kids killed by guns are American kids. I am proud to be a gun owner but shocked and saddened with the lack of personal responsibility many have with owning a firearm.
Making it more difficult to obtain weapons alone will not solve this problem. In addition, we must strengthen enforcement of laws currently on the books and expand training for our educators to recognize the early warning signs and patterns of troubled children. As I write this, it has been 69 days and 1,900 additional lives taken by firearms since the Newtown massacre.
How many more until we act?