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CALLING FOR COMMON GROUND WITH GUN LAWS

Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren hosted an event called "Inside the Gun Debate"

to look at where common ground can be found on both sides of the gun debate.  Our presenters were Tom Mauser, parent of Daniel Mauser who was killed at Columbine and Michael Lang, certified weapons and gun instructor. As people of faith, we live out our lives trying to follow the example of Jesus.  Finding common ground is one place where we can begin, and we call our neighbors and friends to join us!

Our Findings:

IS FEAR DRIVING TOO MUCH OF THIS DEBATE?

Tom

Yes.  The reasonable gun control people fear gun violence more than they fear being harmed. We’re losing people everyday, not in huge numbers, but everyday. Gun ownership is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. No one is confiscating people’s guns. There are more than 275 million guns in the U.S. How could anyone confiscate that many?

Michael

Gun owners fear that they will lose their right to bear guns; Have seen guns confiscated in Great Britain and Australia, gun violence escalated in Great Britain.

Need to have conversations based on fact rather than opinion and neighbor-neighbor discussions.

COMMON GROUND: Dial down the rhetoric. Continue the conversation.

WAITING PERIOD AFTER GUN PURCHASE, VETTING OF GUN BUYERS, INTERNET POSTING OF GUN OWNERS, EXPANDED BACKGROUND CHECKS, LICENSES, PROOF OF GUN TRAINING

Tom

Impractical to have waiting period for  in a gun show purchase; there’d be legal challenges to publishing gun owners on internet.

States use the Federal Database when doing their background checks already. 

Can we agree on need to expand program where gun shops hand out information about suicide prevention?

Michael

Who needs a gun tomorrow? Maybe Domestic Violence victims? Should she have to wait a week if her husband is escalating?

Universal/Federal Background checks take away states’ rights.

We have a constitutional right to own a gun but don’t have a constitutional right to drive. That’s why there’s no police interview, one-on-one interaction like in the driving test before someone gets a gun.

COMMON GROUND: Gun shop employees don’t know why someone is purchasing a gun; some shops are distributing information on suicide prevention and community resources;

We suggest that this be expanded and also happen at gun shows.

Michael provided additional information regarding gun shows; no longer have private sellers at gun shows that aren’t running background checks; gun shows are for licensed gun shops to bring their guns to shows for a greater audience; customers register when they enter the show. He also stated that it’s almost impossible to enforce background checks on private transfers of guns; that in fact background checks registration dropped by 85% once this law went into effect, doubts that transfers dropped this significantly, can’t track because there’s no gun registration in Colorado. Also stated some misunderstanding inherent in statistics related to gun violence; i.e., while 78% of suicides involve guns, assault weapons aren’t involved.

Michael

There’s a lot of information that we don’t know about the Las Vegas shooting. The NRA is willing to review bump stocks. The bump stock or slide stock was created so disabled people could participate in shooting activities.

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO LAS VEGAS SHOOTING/WHAT DID WE LEARN?

Tom

Automatic weapons were outlawed long ago, government allowed them only for some licensed people; Companies broke this pact when they created devices, like bump stocks,  that allowed semi automatics to fire like automatics modified guns using the bump stock.

Michael

There’s a lot of information that we don’t know about the Las Vegas shooting. The NRA is willing to review bump stocks. The bump stock or slide stock was created so disabled people could participate in shooting activities.

COMMON GROUND:  Disallow bump stocks except for disabled. 

Require proof of disability before being allowed to use a weapon modification.

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO NRA INSURANCE OFFERED FOR SHOOTINGS IN SELF DEFENSE?

Tom

Protects me in the event I might be charged with murder, but seems to encourage recklessness.

Michael

It’s a liability insurance, for reckless endangerment, collateral liability – but questions whether agrees that the NRA never should have entered the insurance business; pays for lawyer consultation and other costs in frivolous lawsuits, gave example of person with concealed carry permit whose jacket flew open, gun was seen, was accused of brandishing weapon, arrested, spent $20,000 to clear his name, charges eventually dropped.

NO COMMON GROUND

WHAT’S THE ROLE OF MENTAL ILLNESS?/HIPPA

Tom

It’s easy to say someone isn’t of their right mind when they kill someone but that doesn’t mean that they’re mentally ill. The mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence than to commit violence. Important to identify those who are likely to commit acts but this is difficult; need to have a way to do something about it; Aurora shooter’s psychiatrist knew he was a danger but nothing in the law would have stopped his gun purchase.  Suggested a Gun Violence Restraining Order through the courts for someone deemed a danger to self or others.

Michael

Difficult to pinpoint; over 50% of U.S. take antidepressants, no record on CBI; Severe mental instability of many mass shooters – to identify on CBI would require circumventing HIPPA laws.

COMMON GROUND: How do we modify HIPPA laws in cases where someone is a danger to themselves or others?

HIGHER PENALTIES FOR CRIMES INVOLVING GUNS

Tom

Already in place.  We already have highest rate of incarceration in Free World.  We need to treat jailed people, not just lock up and expect them to rehabilitate.  High jail cost.  

Michael

Supports stiffer penalties; too much plea bargaining; Enforce the laws that are already on the books; Mandatory Maximum Sentences of Felons*

NO COMMON GROUND


*CO Senator Daniel Kagan strongly disagreed.