(Host) Commentator Sarwar Kashmeri is a gun owner and national security
specialist who believes that if Americans really want to develop
meaningful gun regulations, they’re going to have to "Think long term."
The day after the President’s speech Senator Leahy, Chairman of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, said he didn’t know if an assault weapons
ban could pass the Senate. In Vermont, legislation to ban assault
weapons was pulled off the table within a week, before it could even be
considered by lawmakers.
So much for expectations of quick
action on the President’s proposals, drafted after the murders of 20
young students and their teachers last month in Newtown Connecticut.
think the most we can expect now, maybe, is passage of legislation to
ensure that anyone wanting to buy a firearm is checked against a Federal
database. With luck we may also get a ban on armor piercing bullets.
Beyond that I expect little.
biggest reason for my skepticism is the realization that the train has
already left the station. America is awash in more than 300 million
firearms, including 3 million so called assault weapons. There’s little
the President or Congress can do to change this situation in the short
term. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. But I believe the real payoff
will only come from thinking big ideas, long term.
need to make a serious attempt to get as many firearms as possible out
of circulation. A month ago the Los Angeles Police Department recovered
more than two thousand guns in one day long buy-back event. Guns
recovered during this no questions asked programs are melted down and
destroyed. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department will run a similar
program to exchange guns for gift cards. Senator Feinstein’s new bill
wisely attempts to prohibit the sale of new assault weapons without
taking them away from current owners.
What if the Federal
Government, in partnership with corporations that wish to be seen as
civic leaders, were to set up a billion dollar fund to buy back weapons
nationally through police departments; I bet we could soak up millions
of firearms in a decade.
Then, as radical and challenging as it may sound, I also think we should make an effort to amend the 2nd Amendment.
is shifting the balance of political power: 50% of rural counties lost
population last year and less than 20 percent of lawmakers now represent
non-urban areas of the country. So, within the next 30 years most
Americans will live in urban areas. These are places in which firearms
cause the most damage. Think Chicago, Philadelpia, Newark, and yes,
Newtown, CT. I believe that these rapidly changing demographics will
change Americans’ views on an unregulated constitutional right to bear
As an owner of firearms and an enthusiastic shooting
sportsman I’m glad the President has decided to lead on this issue. And I
wish him luck. But to really make a difference he’ll need a dual
strategy: proposing measures that stand a chance of passing Congress
now, but also preparing the field for his successors to continue the
effort into the future.