Daryl Boling, candidate for the PA State House (D-152), shares his eloquent, no-nonsense plan for curbing gun violence in America.
In the wake of the Parkland shooting — and the subsequent shaking of our nation’s ethical compass for gun safety, particularly as it guides us toward better protection of our children and families — it is poignant and telling that from the mouths of our children we have heard the greatest wisdom. From those high school students in Parkland, echoed throughout classrooms across America, our children’s voices have managed to distill and focus our collective energies around this issue in ways we have not seen in decades.
And they have no problem in speaking truth to power and identifying the problem for what it is: Guns. It is because they are unencumbered by the baggage of partisan politics and the influence of a billion-dollar weapons manufacturing industry. They see a wrong and they speak the truth in how they believe that wrong should be corrected.
While I was grateful to see our incumbent State Representative taking a moment to reflect upon the growing tragedy of gun violence and the travesty that we can’t even make a dent in the rising death toll, I admittedly found it disappointing that his recent opinion piece seemed to sadly miss the mark. Worse, it was not even pointed at the right target.
Was it a problem that some local law-enforcement and FBI officials did not react sufficiently to early warning signs from the shooter? Yes.
Is there a major failing in our collective response and treatment for individuals with acute and/or chronic mental health concerns? Absolutely.
But even if we remedy these issues, we are still left with a tremendous, untenable burden and liability on these would-be safety nets; and even the most effective, sophisticated mental health response and intervention system will never be able to fully prevent some individuals from slipping through the cracks.
Because until we address the true underlying issue at hand, which is the prolific access to high-capacity, semi-automatic and automatic weapons, these unstable individuals will continue to slip through those cracks; armed to the teeth, with no real or measurable defense in place for average citizens who find themselves literally caught in the line of fire.
Learn more about Daryl’s candidacy for the Pennsylvania Statehouse (HD-152) by visiting his website.
And no… We should not be arming our teachers. Their jobs are hard enough as it is. Now we want them to be deputized law enforcement volunteers? I think not. Beneath all of which underlies this fundamental philosophical disagreement — more guns won’t make us safer.
And all the while, politicians dance around the issue for fear of offending the NRA and the gun lobby; hanging their hats on an ages-old constitutional language enacted at a time when automatic weapons with the destructive power that currently exist were not even considered a possibility.
The bottom line is this: the rights of individuals to live free from fear that their friends, husbands, wives, sons or daughters might be the next victim of senseless gun violence, those rights should far supersede the rights of any individual to purchase any weapon, whenever and wherever they please, much less the right to own an assault weapon — weapons that were never designed to be in the hands of average citizens in the first place.
So what should we be doing?
Anything and everything in our power to make it more difficult, not easier, to be a gun owner. With great power comes great responsibility… And that responsibility should not come so easy.
And in Pennsylvania, we already have efforts underway to improve the situation.
All we have to do is have the courage to speak truth to power and move our country in the direction that countless other countries have already embraced, with great success.
Just a few examples that are already in the works are:
Universal Background Checks Requiring criminal and mental health background checks for all gun purchases, closing loopholes that allow dangerous individuals to easily purchase firearms
Lost and Stolen Reporting Mandating the reporting of lost or stolen firearms within 72 hours of discovery, giving law enforcement a head start on finding and recovering weapons that may later be used in criminal activity.
Firearm Restraining Order Allowing families, friends, and others, to petition courts for an order requiring an individual to temporarily forfeit their firearms when there is good cause to believe they pose an immediate threat to the safety of a family, household member, or other people.
Banning the Sale of Rapid Firing Devices Banning the sale of rapid-firing devices like “bump stocks” which are described as being able to simulate fully automatic rates of fire, and were used in the massacre in Las Vegas last October.
Mental Health Disqualifications Sent to the (NICS) Ensuring that mental health disqualifications are sent to the National Firearms Background Check System (NICS) within 72 hours of the state police receiving new mental health data.
Background Check for Ammunition Purchases Requiring background checks for the purchase of ammunition, a process similar to that of purchasing a firearm.
And finally, Banning Sales and Possession of Semi-automatic Rifles with certain military-style features and large magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition
Yes — this will not solve all the problems nor is it a guarantee against events like this will never happen again.
But it at least would be finally stacking the deck in our favor and significantly reduce the risk that burdens this country on a daily basis.
And perhaps, our children can once again focus their attention on the bright promise of a future that we all believe, in our hearts, is still within our reach.
Daryl Boling is the Democratic Party endorsed candidate for the Pennsylvania State House in the 152nd District.