Cicilline Bill Takes On Longtime Need for Responsible Gun Control Measures
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Durbin made his remark in 2000 to mark the one-year anniversary of the Columbine tragedy and the failure of the House to pass legislation that would have mandated background checks for gun buyers at gun shows; trigger locks; and the end to sales of high-capacity ammunition clips.
Just over a decade after Durbin delivered those remarks, Americans learned to their horror that a gunman, armed with those high-capacity ammo clips that Durbin warned about, sprayed bullet after bullet – 31 bullets in total -- through a crowd gathered to speak to their Congresswoman in Tucson. As the tragedy played out on TVs across the country, we learned that many had been injured and killed – among them, a nine-year-old girl whose laughter and dreams are now silenced forever.
Let’s be clear, the blame for what happened in Tucson lies solely with the perpetrator. But there can be little question that the number of innocent victims was increased by the shooter’s ability to fire a large number of bullets without having to stop and reload.
This week, recently elected Congressman David Cicilline announced he will continue his efforts to take on gun violence with legislation that calls for a 10-round-maximum – the same cap under the former federal assault weapons ban and the current standard for four states. Cicilline is no stranger to this issue. He helped found the Mayors’ Coalition against Illegal Guns and has seen first-hand, as a city mayor, the devastation these weapons can cause.
There will be some who will say Cicilline’s bill is taking away their Second Amendment Rights. No one is saying that people can’t engage in hunting or keep a weapon in their home (as long as it is safely secured), but like other Constitutional rights, the Supreme Court has recognized there are limits necessary for safety and the good of society. For example, despite the First Amendment, one cannot burn a cross on a front yard as that is a recognized form of hate speech.
In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court struck down a law that prohibited handgun possession in the home. However, the court noted that “the right to keep and bear arms is not ‘a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.’” The Court in 2010 recently reaffirmed this in McDonald v. City of Chicago.
Granted, this bill probably faces an “uphill fight” in Congress given the power of the gun lobby, but isn’t it about time we all joined together and enacted reasonable, responsible measures to protect our citizens?
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
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