The gun control bill announced this week by House Speaker Robert DeLeo represents one of the most (indeed in our view, THE most) comprehensive efforts in our nation to bring about sensible gun control legislation that both improves public safety while also safeguarding the rights of law-abiding citizens to purchase guns as enunciated in the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that extended the Second Amendment to private persons.
Speaker’s DeLeo’s bill is a long and complex piece of legislation that is befitting one of the most complex problems facing American society today. The mass shooting tragedies in our nation (the most recent of which occurred in Santa Barbara, California, this past weekend) that have become all too common clearly need to be addressed.
However, mass shootings alone, while grabbing all of the headlines, are only the tip of the iceberg when the subject of gun control is involved. While our nation rightly takes all sorts of measures to ensure our safety from international terrorism, the oft-ignored reality is that more Americans lose their lives each and every three months because of gun violence – right here in our own homes, neighborhoods, and communities – than were killed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Although gun murders by hardened criminals certainly are a large part of the problem, the easy availability of legal gun ownership, including assault weapons and other high-capacity guns, has created a new type of crime – mass murder of schoolchildren, people in theaters, and shopping malls – that did not exist a generation ago.
Moreover, the laxity of the laws in many states means that those who are mentally-ill have easy access to such weapons of mass murder. The most impressive aspect of Speaker DeLeo’s bill is that it focuses to such a great extent on the issues of mental health and drug addiction, two problems that our society has ignored for far too long.
We have no doubt that those on all sides of the issue of gun control will find some reason to complain about Speaker DeLeo’s bill, either because it goes too far (the pro-gun crowd) or not far enough. But we believe that in the final analysis, Bob DeLeo’s bill will be hailed as a landmark and common-sense approach to a complex problem that not only will enhance the safety of the citizens of Massachusetts, but also will serve as a model for other states that similarly care about the safety of their citizenry.
As the ancient Romans said, “Let the safety of the people be the highest law of the land.”
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