TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Proud Of Minnesota’s Senators … But Not So Much Of North Dakota’s

In light of recent events, I am extremely proud of Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. I cannot express strongly enough how disgusted and disappointed I am with North Dakota Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp. When it came time to vote on the filibuster issue, the only Democrat who opposed basic legislation was Heidi Heitkamp!

At a time in our history where gun violence is rampant, and when massacres have become just about routine, Minnesota senators go on the warpath in support of reasonable weapons regulation and laws to address mental health concerns … while North Dakota’s senators hide under a political rock.

It’s a known fact that since the assault weapons ban passed in 1994 was allowed to expire in 2004, mass shootings have increased dramatically.

What did the 1994 ban actually do? For the 10 years that the ban was in effect, it was illegal to manufacture specified assault weapons for use by private citizens. The law also set a limit on high-capacity magazines — these could now carry no more than 10 bullets.

There was, however, an important exception. Any assault weapon or magazine that was manufactured before the law went into effect in 1994 remained perfectly legal to own or resell. That was a huge exception: At the time, there were roughly 1.5 million assault weapons and more than 24 million high-capacity magazines in private hands.

Many types of weapons were banned — the same ones that are now proposed to be banned again -— and I will make no attempt to list all of them here.

There is a vast difference between “automatic weapons” and “semiautomatic weapons.” I’ve seen so many definitions that it’s hard to categorize them, so I will generalize. An assault weapon is fully automatic. Pull the trigger, and it keeps firing until it runs out of ammunition. The semiautomatic type weapon is one where you have to pull the trigger to fire each shell, i.e., like pistols and like some rifle types.

Whether fully automatic or semiautomatic, multicartridge clips for these weapons — both rifles and pistols — should not be available to the general public.

Both former President Ronald Reagan and Chief Justice Warren Burger of the U.S. Supreme Court viewed the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in the same light. They argued that the sale, purchase and use of guns should and could be regulated, just as cars and boats are regulated, without violating the amendment. But today, there is so much emphasis on the “right to bear arms” that common sense has gone out the window.

The amendment states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

We now have what some would call well-regulated militias at the local level: The state National Guard units, local police and sheriffs departments and state highway patrols, among others, who have been established “To Serve and Protect.”

Today, every time someone suggests that gun sales be controlled, the boogeymen claim that the “Government” — which is “we the people” — is coming after your guns. Does anyone remember the call to arms issued by the National Rifle Association when President Obama was elected? It proclaimed that “he was coming for your guns!” Has anyone heard the government knocking on your door asking you to surrender your weapons? The answer is no. In these United States, that will never happen.

But there is a syndrome out there known as “theheaduptheirasses.” Thank God, it has a cure! It is called “common-sense regulation” including registration. This sensible approach includes regulating the sale of automatic and semiautomatic type weapons, limiting the size of magazines for all weapons, requiring a background check for anyone purchasing the enumerated weapons and the banning of fully automatic assault weapons, among other things.

Most importantly, however, would be a required change in the law. If someone is determined by professionals (mental health and other medical experts or law enforcement) to be a danger to himself or others, or otherwise mentally dangerous, that fact could be reported to the appropriate agency without violating HIPPA regulations to see that they do not have access to guns.

Individuals involved in domestic violence and or acts involving the unlawful use of any weapon would be required to be documented and prohibited from possessing firearms.

Each state should have a designated agency that would compile and maintain a list of those who should not have weapons, according to national criteria. All local governments should be required to report the named individuals to the state. The state should then notify a designated federal agency … one whose sole function is to maintain a national list of those who should have no weapons, including (but not limited to) those on the government “no fly” list.

A civil procedure should be in place so that if one is designated for any of the multiple reasons set forth to be included on the “no weapons” list, they can ask for an administrative hearing by an appointed board consisting of medical and mental health professionals, law enforcement and an ordinary citizen. It should meet outside the court setting with all the technicalities that would be involved.

Law-abiding citizens and hunters would not be affected. The process would focus only on those who should never have access to guns.

Now, someone sure as heck is going to claim I’m bonkers, suggesting the government would come and get them if this type of proposal was considered. To them, I say: You confuse the USA with Nazi Germany, and I take personal offense at that. If you have better ideas — other than doing “nothing” — go ahead and submit them.

Do not rely on North Dakota’s U.S. senators and representative. The NRA owns all three of them, Hoeven, Heitkamp and Kevin Cramer. Minnesota, however, has two courageous senators who are concerned about “we the people,” and that’s how it ought to be.

I’m not against guns. I’m for common-sense regulation. Sure, the vast majority of killings are carried out with handguns. The states with the toughest laws have the most violence because our totally unregulated market allows the SOBs from out of state to sell guns right into the tough states that are trying to control them.

I think all gun regulations also should require that when the original owner sells or gives one away, that transaction should be recorded. The sale or gift should not be completed until the purchaser has been investigated through the required background check.

Nothing I or anyone else has suggested is going to stop all killers. But they can be dramatically reduced. That’s a goal we should all strive for.

We have a loose cannon running for the presidency who maintains that in the last massacre at the gay celebration, if there were more guns in the crowd, the killer would have been stopped. This person completely ignored the fact that even when police arrived, it was hours before they could take the needed action. Authorities thought the killer was wearing a bomb, and they didn’t want to cause further death. Unfortunately, they could not know they had been wrong until it was too late.

Imagine the setting: a crowded dance hall, dim lighting, music blasting your ear drums. Somewhere in the dark, a crazed killer opens fire. Now, let’s assume that one or more partygoers were armed with semiautomatic weapons.

Now just stop and think. How could these other armed people have stopped this? They couldn’t. If they were gun-toting cowboys, they could sure open fire … and more people would be injured or die because no one could tell the good guys from the bad guys. That would also apply to the police, once they made their entrance.

When I hear lawmen talking about not wanting regulation, I ask myself where they get that crazy “Trump juice.” We ask so much of our law enforcement, and around here, they are the best of the best. But they need our help. Whether they want it or not, we should support reasonable gun regulation. We should also release some of our uninformed politicians from their duties if they can’t recognize the danger in the status quo and the need for common sense.

Note to the NRA: The good, decent members of that organization should show their horror at their leaders by demanding they change their posture … or drop your membership in protest. There are good people in that organization for the right reasons. Unfortunately, these good people aren’t the spokesman.

Last but not least, National Public Radio talked last week about how the American Medical Association considers gun violence a public health crisis. Yet existing laws limit or prohibit research on the issue. Those laws should be repealed immediately so that the Centers for Disease Control, the AMA and other professionals are permitted to finally research gun violence. We need real information to work with. Right now, the main problem is that we don’t have it. Amen.

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