Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
I was sitting in a local family restaurant when the old couple came
in. The first thing I noticed was her sweet smile. The second thing
was the tremor in his hands. The third, as he pushed back his
jacket to sit down, was the gun on his hip.
I had seldom been more frightened. It was a family restaurant, and
somebody had come in packing a gun!
I never knew if the gun was licensed. I never knew if the man was
trained to carry it. I only knew that, if something happened and he
felt threatened, with his tremor and possibly poor eyesight, if he did
pull that gun, he wasn't likely to have a great aim. And he was
surrounded by a restaurant full of potential targets--including my
husband and then-school-aged children.
They say guns don't kill, people do. But we all know that it's
people with guns who kill. We need to keep those guns out of the
hands of people with mental problems, with anger control issues,
with jealousy, with paranoia, with an overweening need to be
famous--I could go on, but I'm afraid if I did, the list would include
all of us at one time or another in our lives.
Brazilian law states that you can own a gun, but you must leave it at
home, where it's available to defend home and property. I seriously
doubt that anybody needs a gun in the street--or a restaurant or
grocery store or church, for that matter. And even at home, the
people most often killed are the children living there.
One of our senators here in California, Dianne Feinstein, authored a
bill in 1994 outlawing firearms of the sort that are designed for use
in warfare. They're too expensive to use for target practice and too
powerful for hunting. They're just made to kill people.
When that law expired in 2004, it was not renewed. Now Senator
Feinstein is ready to introduce it again, and I hope this time it won't
have an expiration date.
That's a good first step, but I'd like to see most, if not all, guns
banned. Having the right to bear arms doesn't mean that it's the
right thing to do.
A second step would be to tighten background checks for those
buying guns, including full background checks on those buying
weapons at gun shows, which now number some 5,000 a year in
this country and which sell as many as 1,000 weapons a day. Many
gun shows last two days, so you can do the math.
Third, we can reduce the number of shells in a clip. The man who
shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona kept killing people
until he had to stop to reload. Only then were bystanders able to
wrestle him to the ground. If he'd had to reload sooner, lives
would have been spared.
Fourth, we need to improve school safety by making it more difficult
for outsiders to get onto campuses during the school day. Perhaps
using cameras or phones, not glass, like security apartments do.
And, finally, we need to identify those with mental illnesses that
incline them toward violence and see that they get the help they
need. We can't stop all violence, but we should do all we can to
reduce it, including limiting weapons.
Last night on TV, I saw an interview with Senator Mark Warner of
Virginia, who has an "A" rating from the NRA. He was having
second thoughts about gun control since the elementary school
shooting and since his three daughters came home from college
insisting that something had to be done.