More shootings, more senseless deaths, more devastated survivors, families and communities, all while our nation continues to argue about the cause — guns, mental health, video games and on and on and on, with no solution in sight.
Our inability to act did not happen after 9/11. Americans came together, we were decisive and numerous solutions were enacted to do everything possible to make sure another 9/11 never happened. Only two months after that tragedy, Congress passed the Aviation and Transportation Security Act which, among other things, created the Transportation Security Administration. To offset added security costs, a “September 11th security fee” was tacked onto passengers’ tickets with the TSA collecting nearly $15 billion over nine years. Airlines also had to give some of their luggage-screening budget to help offset costs. Air carrier fee collections amounted to $2.9 billion between 2002 and 2010. Cockpit doors were fortified and locked so access would be available only to authorized personnel. Anyone traveling today knows going through the TSA can be a real pain, yet we do so not only because it’s the law but because no one wants another 9/11.
Why do we not feel the sense of urgency related to gun violence that we felt after 9/11? It was certainly tragic that 2,977 lives were lost and 6,000 others were injured on Sept. 11, 2001. Another tragedy is that in 2016 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 39,000 deaths from gun violence — not just mass shootings but all gun deaths in the United States including homicides, suicides and accidents. Yet little has been done about this epidemic of gun violence in our country.
My staunch Second Amendment rights friends fear any gun restrictions are the first steps to government confiscation of all of their guns. Yet when TSA regulations were enacted, air travel wasn’t taken away, it was made safer. Private pilots did not see their planes and licenses confiscated. Some friends insist it’s not the gun, it’s the shooter. They’re correct. However, it also wasn’t the plane that flew into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the ground in Pennsylvania; it was the people behind the controls of the aircraft. Nevertheless, laws were implemented to stop people wanting to do harm from getting behind the controls of aircraft. Likewise, if the shooter of a gun doesn’t have access to the gun, he (yes, the majority of shooters are male) can’t pull the trigger.
After 9/11, all of us sacrificed some of our previous freedoms for peace of mind when flying and to ensure more innocent lives would not be lost. This is now commonplace when we fly. Why can’t we implement common-sense guns laws?
My husband, our son and many of my friends are gun owners and hunters, so I’m certainly not anti-gun. I eat all the venison sausage that comes my way and am grateful for it. I don’t know of anyone who supports banning all guns. However, in a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll regarding assault-style weapons, 70% of respondents, including about 55% of Republican voters and 86% of Democrats, supported prohibiting such weapons; only 23% overall said they opposed banning such weapons.
Before Christmas, I sought advice from a friend who is on my husband’s deer lease about a Christmas gift for my husband. He thought a nice deer rifle would be the perfect gift. I agreed. He suggested a gun store in Austin, so I called and ordered the gun. A few days later, I drove to Austin and in less than an hour walked out of the store with a high-powered deer rifle. Yes, the store did a background check on me, but the process should have been far more rigorous. I was not asked if I had taken a gun safety course. No proof of insurance was required.
Recently, when I purchased a new car, proof of insurance was required before I could drive off the lot. All drivers must pass a driver’s education course before they can legally drive. Automobile makers are required to install safety belts, airbags and other safety features in cars. Yet anyone can walk into a gun store or gun show, purchase a weapon without having received gun safety education and without insurance. Gun manufacturers aren’t required to add gun safety features to guns even though smart-gun technology exists. Implementing these measures could saves lives, so why aren’t we doing it?
The United States has more gun deaths than any other wealthy nation. Rather than fighting over the causes, let’s focus on multifaceted, common-sense solutions to the problem — just as we did after 9/11.