Linda K. Armacost, Ed.D
2016 Presidential Election Issues: Gun Control
So far, the Democrats and Republicans have had 20+Primary Election debates. Debates are supposed to educate voters about important issues and the candidates’ stand on those issues. I believe gun control is a very important issue for our nation. Gun proliferation, in my opinion, is the number one public health issue affecting our nation. This column looks at the problem of gun violence and where the candidates stand on gun control.
The day after a shooting spree in Oregon last year, President Obama said people who support gun control would “just have to, for a while, be a single-issue voter” if gun laws in America were ever going to change.
Obama said he’ll follow that philosophy himself.
“Even as I continue to take every action possible as president, I will also take every action I can as a citizen,” he said in an op-ed for The New York Times. “I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform. And if the 90% of Americans who do support common-sense gun reforms join me, we will elect the leadership we deserve.”
Here are some staggering statistics: Gun violence in the United States results in thousands of deaths and injuries annually. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 firearms were used in 84,258 nonfatal injuries (26.65 per 100,000 U.S. citizens) and were used in 11,208 deaths by homicide (3.5 per 100,000), 21,175 by suicide with a firearm, and 505 deaths due to accidental discharge of a firearm, and 281 deaths due to firearms-use with ‘undetermined intent” for a total of 33,169 deaths related to firearms.
In 2010, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 67% of all homicides in the U.S. were conducted using a firearm. In 2010, gun violence cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $516 million in direct hospital costs.Last year at least 278 children unintentionally fired a gun and injured or killed someone. U.S. gun violence kills significantly more people than terrorism — even factoring in 9/11. Since 2001, the harm from terrorists to Americans both here and abroad accounts for 0.8% of all American deaths by firearms in the United States in the same time period.
In the U.S., guns are used in homicides more often than in many other countries
Obama has delivered statements on gun violence 15 times during his presidency. After the latest shooting, he said the nation had become numb to the carnage.
“We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings,” he said. “Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.”
A Mother Jones story in October 2015, reports a majority of Americans now support tougher laws controlling gun sales, according to a Gallup poll. In a year marked by a series of deadly mass shootings, 55 percent of Americans favor stricter gun control legislation—an increase of 8 percentage points from last year.
While the American people have voiced their desire for stricter gun control, state Republican officials seem oblivious: for the second year in a row, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin pulled the emergency brake on legislation that seemed almost tailor-made to bring harm upon law enforcement. The bill in question sought to give persons over the age of 21 the right to carry concealed handguns without a permit. Later that day, flanked by police at a press conference, Tomblin, a Democrat, provided an explanation for his veto. “When you’re [an officer] and you walk into a dangerous situation, you almost have to expect that everyone’s carrying a gun,” he said, suggesting that the likelihood of a shootout would increase if this bill became law. But the legislature would not be deterred. On Friday, the House of Delegates voted to override the veto, and on Saturday the Senate followed suit “I can hear freedom knocking at the doors in West Virginia,” said Senator Craig Blair, a Republican who supported the bill. “That’s exactly what this does.”
Where do the Presidential candidates stand on gun control?
Clinton has publicly said she will fight for “common sense” gun reforms. In 2013, she backed bipartisan legislation requiring universal background checks on gun purchases.
“I know that gun ownership is part of the fabric of a lot of law abiding communities,” Clinton told the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco following the Charleston shooting. “I also know that we can have common sense gun reforms that keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the violently unstable while respecting responsible gun owners.”
Sanders has an uncertain track record when it comes to guns. As Politico reported, Sanders’ campaign manager says he is “very moderate” when it comes to gun control. However in the past, Sanders has voted against the Brady Bill (law that requires a waiting period for handgun purchases and background checks on those who wish to purchase handguns), voted for a ban on assault weapons, voted to allow firearms on Amtrak trains, and voted for universal background checks.
Ted Cruz has an “A+” rating from the NRA and has firmly expressed support for Second Amendment rights.
“The Second Amendment to the Constitution isn’t for just protecting hunting rights, and it’s not only to safeguard your right to target practice,” Cruz has said, per the New York Times. “It is a Constitutional right to protect your children, your family, your home, our lives, and to serve as the ultimate check against governmental tyranny — for the protection of liberty.”
Like many other Republican colleagues, Cruz voted against moving forward on the 2013 Senate legislation to expand background checks.
During a 2013 interview with FOX News, Trump described himself as “a very strong person on the Second Amendment.” But in his 2000 book “The America We Deserve,” Trump said he supports a ban on assault weapons and longer waiting periods on gun purchases.
“I believe in the 2nd Amendment. Everybody has the right to keep and bear arms to either protect your family, protect yourselves, to be a hunter (like his son who’s Facebook photo showed the aftermath an elephant he killed while it was grazing). The 2nd amendment is part of that Constitution. It’s something I believe in”.
John Kasich noted that the two students who killed 13 people and themselves in Littleton, Colo., violated 19 existing gun laws. “There were already a bunch of laws,” Kasich said. “The kids didn’t pay attention to the laws. I don’t think new laws will solve all the problems.”
More parenting better than more gun laws “In most homes, both parents work and nobody has the time to spend with their children anymore,” he said.
Opposes restrictions on the right to bear arms.
Voted YES on decreasing gun waiting period from 3 days to 1.
I agree with President Obama and do not support any candidate who isn’t serious about gun control.