Letter: Thoughts on reducing gun violence

Editor of the Reformer:

It has become clear to most Americans that we desperately need to curtail all types of gun violence. The tragic consequences of our current lack of firearms regulation is too much to bear. We need to take action now. A reasonable place to start the conversation is to compare gun ownership to driving. It's commonly accepted that in order to operate a motor vehicle everyone should be subject to reasonable restrictions and regulations and drive responsibly.

Every driver must pass a driving test. Drivers must carry their license with them while operating a motor vehicle. Every vehicle driven on our roads must be registered and in most states inspected regularly. Drivers must have their license and registration with them while driving. Drivers must present a valid license and automobile registration at every routine traffic stop. We all accept this as reasonable and sensible.

Why shouldn't similar regulations be applied to gun ownership? All guns should also be registered. Gun owners should be required to pass a comprehensive gun safety course — a course that would emphasize the moral obligation to use a firearm safely and responsibly. In addition, they should be required to pass a gun safety course every 10 years. The systems for registration of motor vehicles and driver's license testing are already in place in all states. It would be reasonably straightforward to modify them to register guns and test and license gun owners.

Background checks for all gun owners of course. Just common sense. Ban the sale of assault rifles to anyone regardless of age. Limit clip capacity to eight rounds. Revoke "open carry" laws. An openly visible firearm just incites a fear reaction. Require background checks and a reasonable waiting period for all gun purchases including gun show sales and private sales. When you buy a car from an individual you have to transfer the title and register the vehicle in your name before you can legally drive it. Any individual owning 10 firearms or more could be open to closer scrutiny. Any person purchasing a large quantity of ammunition could be open to closer scrutiny. A federal agency similar to the NSA should be established just to monitor social media and other platforms for threatening postings with the power to follow up and enforce firearm regulations and do further background checks.

Only a comprehensive approach to gun regulation can hope to have a significant impact on gun violence. Vermont led the way on civil unions. We should lead the way on sensible, effective gun control measures. The testing and licensing of all drivers is accepted as essential to the safety of the general public. Now is the time to enact similar regulations for gun ownership.

Call or write your Vermont legislators and the governor's office if you agree that more stringent gun regulations must be enacted now.

John Bentley,

Brattleboro, March 5


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