|1/3/2013||Sheriff offers observations on gun control discussions|
The mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December has many federal and state lawmakers deliberating the viability of setting more stringent gun control policies, including the ban on military-grade assault weapons, in an effort to curb gun violence and mass shootings.
Earlier this week, Custer County sheriff Fred Jobe shared his thoughts on the matter.
Jobe said that our nation has a long tradition of gun ownership, and that ownership -- for self-protection, hunting and outdoor recreational activities -- is protected via the second amendment in the U.S. Constitution.
Jobe agrees that more must be done to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from obtaining guns, however, he does not believe banning gun purchases is the way to do that.
“I’m not for any additional gun control,” said Jobe. He said that a lot of folks are saying that the banning of military assault -type weapons are necessary as such weapons are not needed for hunting and other sportsmen activities, and doing so would keep those weapons out of the hands of those who would use them to do harm.
But said Jobe, many of those assault- type weapons are used for hunting and target practice, and that most persons using them are responsible, law-abiding gun owners.
Furthermore, said Jobe, collectors like to gather many types of items –stamps, baseball cards, lunch boxes and even guns because that is where their interest lies.
“It doesn’t mean these gun collectors are going to use the guns they collect; guns are just something they are interested in,” said Jobe.
Jobe reiterated that most gun collectors are responsible persons who obtain the guns legally with no malicious intent.
He also said that Connecticut has one of the most stringent gun laws in the nation, however, those laws did not keep the mass shooting from happening.
Also, said Jobe, the state of Colorado has strict guns laws, but those laws did not prevent the Aurora tragedy this past summer in which a lone gunman killed a dozen persons and injured numerous others at a movie theater.
“There have been acts of evil in our world and nation for generations, even before guns were ever invented,” said Jobe. “You are not going to stop that evil; if a person can’t use a gun in the U.S. to kill someone, he will use something else.”
He cited the attack upon U.S. soil in New York City and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked planes and then intentionally crashed those planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, killing 3,000 people. “You don’t see our lawmakers wanting to ban planes,” said Jobe.
Jobe also said the directions for bomb- making can be found on the Internet, and a bomb can kill more people at one time than a gun can, even an assault-type weapon.
Moreover, Jobe said approximately 8,500 folks are killed violently with a gun each year in the United States, and about 10,000 people in the U.S. are killed each year via drunk drivers.
The prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. in the 1920s and early 1930s didn’t work, said Jobe, and neither will more gun control.
Instead of more gun control, said Jobe, our nation’s glorification of violence in movies, television and in video games should be explored. “The average person can watch such violence and not be affected by it, but the mentally ill do not have that ability,” said Jobe.
To help keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, said Jobe, instead of gun control laws that keep guns out of everybody’s hands, particularly responsible law-abiding citizens, a better answer might be a more rigid background system that includes mental health records.
Also, cracking down on the gun control laws already in place is the answer, said Jobe. “For example, many times we arrest and charge persons with the illegal possession of a firearm due to a felony conviction,” said Jobe, “and in court that charge gets dismissed or there is very little penalty.”
Locally, said Jobe, some 300 people have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. That number has remained the same for many years.
He said that since lawmakers have announced they are looking at adopting more rigorous gun control laws, his office has received more inquiries than usual regarding the rules and regulations to obtain a concealed weapon permit, however, those persons have not come in to fill out the required paperwork. – Nora Drenner