Guest Column: Punishment, not gun control, solves gun violence

Guns and gun control have been getting lots of attention lately, as you might expect after an incident like Aurora, Colo. The media continues to run articles - many sensational - about gun control and the various pros and cons.

The most troubling article I read since the Aurora shooting was the USA Today editorial entitled, "Aurora gunman reignites debate on devil's bargain."

In this editorial USA Today makes the statement: "It's a devil's bargain that allows millions of law-abiding people to own and use guns responsibly, while accepting thousands of deliberate and accidental shootings a year, including the sort of perverse tragedy that occurred in Colorado."

Who is accepting those shootings? I'm not, yet USA Today claims we, the gun owners, accept these deaths as the price of upholding our Second Amendment rights.

What I would like to try and address here are some of the blatant inaccuracies that many of the gun-related articles use to make their articles more sensational, and also try and answer some of the accusatory questions they frequently ask.

James Holmes did not use an "assault rifle." James Holmes used a semi-automatic .223-caliber rifle, a firearm fundamentally no different than any other semi-automatic rifle commercially available. An "assault rifle" is a fully automatic rifle. End of story.

There is no "gun show loophole," as the USA Today claims. Every gun purchaser buying a gun through an official gun show vendor is subject to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which is administered by the FBI, just like when you buy a gun at Walmart or your local gun store.

That does not mean that two private citizens at a gun show cannot buy or sell firearms on their own, just like when you buy or sell a gun in the classifieds.

USA Today asks, "What happened to the requirements meant to separate the insane from firearms?" Well, generally they are only termed "insane" after they go on a mass shooting spree. Before an event such as that they are no different - legally speaking - than you or I.

The Virginia Tech shooter had a mental health history that was not properly reported to the authorities by the Virginia mental health system. When properly reported, those with troubled mental health histories are not allowed to purchase a firearm.

Further, a post-shooting sentiment by a friend/coworker/classmate etc. reported by the media, such as the shooter acted "bizarre" before the shooting, is not a legal basis for revoking someone's right to own a firearm.

Will stricter gun control prevent or reduce gun violence? Well, it hasn't so far, nor did it in the past when the 1994 10-year assault weapons ban went into effect. I won't try and make a definitive argument that areas with "laxer" gun laws have less crime, but at the same time, areas with extremely rigid gun control laws most certainly don't have less crime.

In fact, the District of Columbia, the area with the strictest gun control laws in the U.S. bar none, has by far the most gun-related murders.

Folks, my only point is this: there are evil people in the world. Making it harder for law-abiding citizens to acquire firearms won't change that, nor will it change the fact that the vast majority of gun-related crimes are committed by people with long and illustrious criminal backgrounds, and criminals are not getting their firearms legally to begin with.

Per an acquaintance: "Trying to stop evil people by making it harder for law-abiding citizens to legally buy and own guns is like trying to stop drunk drivers by making it harder for sober people to legally buy and drive a car."

America is known for its freedom, and with that freedom should come an equal amount of responsibility, an area I feel the American people are lacking in.

Instead of trying to constantly react to evil people by instituting gun laws that would rarely affect evil people to begin with, why don't we do something proactive and create harsher punishments?

If every American had it instilled in their heads that when you commit a heinous crime you will receive an equally heinous prison sentence - instead of murder sentences of 10-20 years, with early out options for good behavior - we might actually see a decrease in violent crime as criminals and troubled citizens alike weigh in their minds the question, "Is it really worth it?"