The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 6, 2013

Deal with gun violence


Daily Item

---- — How to keep guns out of the hands of violent people is very much like other critical issues facing American society. We are trying to slowly close the barn door 50 years after the horse got away.

Most other democratic nations anticipated potential problems with lax gun control. They took action to discourage a proliferation of dangerous weapons before their societies became inundated with them.

Our politicians like to take their time dealing with other critical issues, for example, not only gun violence, but climate change, national debt, health care, financial corruption and corporate campaign spending as well. This is especially true when wealthy special interests make profits by keeping things the way they are, without any regard to what are the best interests of the general public.

The weapons industry always manages to make big profits, regardless of prevailing economic conditions. Estimates of annual gun sales to private citizens range anywhere from $4 billion to $11 billion in retail profits. Like other issues before, the American politics of gun regulation hinge upon corporate lobbying and campaign contributions. The gun industries' major lobbying front, the NRA, has an annual budget of $300 million, backed by a well-organized network of more than 15 million gun-owning members.

Private citizens in America own an estimated 270 million guns, more than every army in Europe, Latin America and Africa put together.

Effective measures to control gun violence will require lawmakers committed to serving the public interest, rather than dancing to the tune of billionaire campaign contributors. Achieving this goal will require substantial campaign reforms, stringent controls over corporate contributions and curbs on big spending political action committees.

Until we elect responsible legislators who are free of financial ties to wealthy special interests, it will be impossible to find a reasonable, practical and constitutionally valid way to deal with gun violence.

David Hafer,

Lewisburg