On June 22, 2004 I was shot point blank with a .45-caliber gun as I entered a subway station in Astoria Queens. The bullet entered my back and rattled around, destroying my hip. It had just enough inertia to come to a stop after puncturing the femoral artery. Nobody was ever prosecuted for my shooting. Meanwhile, I suffered for six years before being diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
The problem with gun laws is that gun violence is an abstraction for most of our lawmakers. They fail to appreciate just how traumatic it is for victims and their families. Moreover, criminals are not manufacturing guns somewhere. Every gun in the hands of a criminal was purchased legally.
The FBI tells us that a relatively few dealers sell a disproportionate number of firearms. Even after thorough background checks it's going to take years to get guns out of the hands of felons. The longer we wait, the harder it will be.
That said, I am not in favor of an assault weapons ban per se. While I would like to get these things off the market, I am concerned that it is a distraction from the real problem which is handguns. As deeply troubling as Sandy Hook was (and I sobbed uncontrollably), mass shootings represent a small fraction of those killed in gun violence.
What can be fixed is the incomplete medical records in Florida. The state agency that screens applicants for gun carry permits can't access a federal database of people with mental illnesses, according to the Sun Sentinel. Florida also wasn't completing background checks for gun carry permits on applicants with illegible fingerprint cards.
Florida is a preemption state, making it a crime for a municipality to enforce stricter gun laws. This is patently absurd. Moreover, with respect to concealed carry permits, Florida is a "shall issue" state that does not require "good cause." Too many people are armed and dangerous. People should be required to demonstrate good cause in order to carry a concealed weapon. We also need to stop selling guns to straw buyers and out-of-state residents. Does Florida really need to be the gun supplier to street gangs in Chicago?
Our lawmakers pander to the lowest common denominator, which tends to be incurious and ill-informed. Unless and until that changes, the carnage will continue to mount, and it is appalling in both substance and frequency.
David C. Hart is a retired CEO and quality-management consultant. He has been a resident of South Beach since the summer of 2010. He blogs at slowlyboiledfrog.com.
This post came from a member of the Public Insight Network, an online community of people who have agreed to share their opinions with The Miami Herald and WLRN. Become a news source for WLRN by going to WLRN.org/Insight.