Getting from NO to YES

Opposition from the NRA and some of their members to any and all forms of reasonable gun and gun safety legislation may never change, may never ever diminish or lose volume and intensity, but, I imagine that if they choose to continue their barrage of criticism, blame-casting, and rhetoric, eventually the voices, desires, and dedication of the rest of the nation may  overcome the agenda of the NRA. It may look now like an impossible and never-ending task, but there is plenty of evidence of incredible and fantastic change that has occurred in my own lifetime. I was born in 1950.

“No, no, no” and “never, never, never” eventually failed–after decades of difficult and dangerous commitment–falling on deaf ears as a response to calls for the genuine  integration of African-Americans into society and the recognition of everyone’s civil rights. There is still progress to be made. However, today’s 2nd  inauguration of a Black president continues to amaze, and fills me with pride and satisfaction.

And, certainly, the unsteady, and as yet incomplete, progress that has been made in the last few years for gay rights, same-sex marriage, and the public recognition of the damaging effects of the bullying and assaults on LGBT citizens has been amazing to all of us. Really. Who would have thought?

Oh, the naysayers still exist, and there are thousands of them out there, but, Baby, look how far civil rights and gay rights have come. I feel confident that eventually the NRA’s version of gun rights will be overcome by the need for and wishes for gun rights for the rest of us.

[I am a gun owner. I feel the need to say this every time I write or talk about this subject. I am not a member of the NRA. Locked in my gun safe are weapons for hunting–shotguns, a muzzle-loading rifle, and a crossbow. In general, guns do not terrify me. I have a lot of friends who own guns.]

Let me make it clear that I am committed to reasonable gun legislation, commonsense gun safety measures, and the regulation of battlefield weapons and ammunition. I am especially concerned about the safety and security of children both at school and in their neighborhoods. I am as concerned when children are murdered one-by-one in the streets of our cities as I am about the murders of groups of children in schools, at malls, movie theatres, and churches. Guns are the weapons of choice in these killings.

I have been impressed by the administration’s rapid, forthright, and comprehensive efforts to begin and carry on necessary and much-deserved conversations about what should be done to better manage assault and assault-style weapons, large-volume gun magazines, and access to extreme ammunition.

Of course, the NRA has immediately responded to each and every message conveyed and initiative suggested by an elected official. Governor Jack Markell (Delaware) had barely completed a press conference a week ago when the NRA issued its own press release opposing every measure the governor highlighted. According to an article in today’s Wilmington News Journal, NRA president David Keene “lashed out at recent gun control proposals by President Barack Obama and Gov. Jack Markell in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., before an estimated 1,500 people on Sunday.” The event was held at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover.

[I just returned from the annual MLK prayer breakfast at the same location. Trust me when I tell you that the message this morning was vastly different and delivered in an entirely different tone: peace, justice, caring, legacy, citizenship, and equality.]

Here’s the list of proposals recently released by the White House regarding commonsense responses to gun safety and the enhancement of and increased access to mental health care. Obviously, this does not detail the legislation that will most likely follow.

This is the kind of stuff that drives the NRA crazy. They cannot even bring themselves to talk about it. They can only rail against it.

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.                                                                                                          .
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

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