Column: Are more restrictions on firearms ownership really needed?

Today, I am going to deviate a little from the normal “Hook-N-Bullet” stories I author as I think about the gun laws issue.

It is truly tragic when a young adult who has some mental issues decides to take the lives of innocent school kids. But as sad as this tragedy truly is, there are a lot more things that take the lives of our kids. And it happens all over the U.S. on a daily basis, and yet no one seems terribly upset about it.

Each day, there are a number of young Americans who are killed in automobile accidents, and many are due to them texting and driving. Do we have laws that prohibit that? Sure we do, but has it stopped it? Nope.

Then there are those young folks who die as a result of drug overdoses and suicide. This group of outspoken young adults doesn’t seem to understand what the solution to this problem is.

Are the American people really gullible enough to think that more firearm restrictions will prevent mass shootings like the one in Florida?

In America right now, some of the major cities that have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation have the highest number of gun-related homicides. The reason is simple. Criminals don’t care about how many laws you pass or what checks you are proposing. The ones who are harmed are the lawful, law-abiding person who has been disarmed and are vulnerable to violent criminals.

I have been a hunter education instructor for over 20 years in Arizona. I’ve been involved in teaching hundreds, if not a thousand or more, young people and adults about the responsible use of all firearms. I’m proud to say that, to my knowledge, none of our graduates has ever been involved in a shooting.

I was a police officer for 14 ½ years and in that time saw a lot of violent crime. But it wasn’t just with guns; it was knives, alcohol fueled assaults, drugs and even automobiles that were used to kill or maim innocent victims.

In these cases, my feelings were not that the instrument that caused the death and or injury was bad. In each and every case, it was caused by a person. As one local hunter said to me, “I’ve never seen any firearm go off without some person pulling the trigger.”

He is absolutely right.

We have such a poor system of treating folks with mental health issues, who do not use firearms as they were intended, many now want to blame the gun as causing the issues we face today.

Is there a better way to protect our kids when they are in school? I submit there is.

Many teachers today are veterans and others are sportsmen who are very familiar with firearms. Instead of just sacrificing teachers like happened in Florida, why not in addition to the schools having law enforcement officers there as resource officers, let those teachers who want to become trained and certified to carry concealed firearms do it?

I would think that if you were a teacher in today’s world and some person came into your classroom or school with the intent of doing harm to your students, rather than being just a sacrificial lamb, you could and would be willing to take action to stop or at least minimize the loss of human life.

I would advocate that only those teachers that desired to be trained would receive the training necessary to deal with an armed subject. If they had some kind of personal belief that prevented them from carrying a firearm, so be it. It would be entirely voluntary to receive this training and would require constant recertification to be able to have a concealed firearm in their classroom or on their person.

Then put up signs on the fences around the schools that advise would-be killers that staff are armed.

Here is another thing that really upsets me about all these proposed regulations.

I once was a 19 year-old young man who in 1969 volunteered and joined the U.S. Army. I was ready and willing to go wherever Uncle Sam wanted to send me. But yet, I couldn’t legally drink alcohol in many states.

I was trained for combat and understood that I might have to take another human being’s life. I was given a full automatic rifle and taught how to use it effectively. As I was over 18 and considered as an adult, I could purchase a semi-automatic firearm here in Arizona.

But now there are those among us that say even though we are still sending young men and women, 18 years old and older overseas to fight and maybe give up their lives in the service of our country, they want them denied the right to legally purchase a semi-automatic rifle when they come home?

Old enough to drive a 5,000-pound automobile capable of going a 100 miles per hour, old enough to fight and die for this country while armed with fully automatic firearm, but not old enough to be able to purchase after a background check, a semi-automatic rifle?

In a free society there are always going to people who for whatever reason hate others due to their race or religion other reasons that we can’t understand. But to try and pass laws and restrict the ownership of a specific firearm is not going to solve this problem.

I see where it appears the FBI had information that this man had made statements about shooting up a school to others and on social media. Red flags were all over the place but law enforcement apparently didn’t follow up on that information.

This 19-year-old undoubtedly filled out a form (BATF Form 4473) and that information was transmitted to the appropriate Federal agency that screens these applications and gives permission to approve the sale.

Again for whatever reason, he wasn’t denied permission to buy the rifle and passed the instant background check. Even though there had been numerous domestic violence calls that he was involved with that were known by the local sheriff’s office. And by the way, being charged with domestic violence is a reason to not be allowed to purchase a firearm. Despite all of this, the man apparently had no prior criminal record.

There is also the issue of a waiting period that was involved in this case. In Florida each county can decide what that waiting time is. In Broward County, there was a five-day waiting period that this man complied with.

So again, I ask the question. Will more laws and restrictions end these types of incidents? The answer is no. It has been tried time and time again and it just doesn’t work. It’s not the implement that is to blame; it is the person using it incorrectly that is the issue. Law enforcement obviously needs to be more diligent when these disturbing facts are reported to them.

Let our teachers be armed and keep police in the schools.