NRA: Guns without responsibility

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 9:56 AM

Patricio Cisneros Ortega

It’s unanimous, guns don’t kill; people kill.

Rep. Brad Dee, Utah’s majority whip, as reported in a Dec. 21 Standard-Examiner article, “Dee wants to avoid gun control talk on the Hill,” on the children’s massacre, wants a focus on mental health and the disintegration of the family. In the same article, Gov. Gary Herbert states, “What is clear is this nation needs to reassess how we address mental health and particularly access to weapons by the mentally ill.”

In a follow-up, Dec. 30 editorial, “Caution needed after Newtown,” the Standard-Examiner concludes, “The root problem of Newtown and similar massacres is the person, not the firearm.” And finally, the Wall Street Journal ran 10 articles and/or editorials repeating a variation of the above.

So let’s focus on behavior and personal responsibility, not guns.

Guns are special because the 2nd Amendment specifically gives citizens, as the original militia, the right to own an instrument that is designed to kill.

But the 2nd Amendment is also specific and begins with “a well regulated militia,” which too often gets ignored in the debate.

Consequently, we must first mandate that gun ownership carry some type of statutory responsibility for a gun to be secure at all times, from the manufacturer, to the retailer to the individual owner. If any weapon or gun is not secure, and it is used to commit a crime, then the gun owner has been negligent and this negligence must have a criminal and a financial penalty.

As human beings, we can be sympathetic to the Columbine parents and Mrs. Lanza because they did not kill anybody; their children did. But in failing to secure their guns, criminal and financial penalties should exist equal to the crimes their negligence allowed to be committed.

For example, if a son or relative accidentally shoots someone or themselves with a simple gun, it’s manslaughter. But if a mass shooting occurs with a stolen semi-automatic weapon, it’s accessory to murder. Of course, this is simply a starting point suggesting the worst possible outcome.

If guns don’t kill people, negligence about guns certainly does. We need laws to regulate such negligence. We need personal responsibility, not excuses. We need responsible people to limit the access to guns by the mentally unstable.

Second, if a retailer has guns stolen because they were not secure, he, she or it would be negligent, and he, she or it would face criminal and financial penalties equal to the crimes committed.

Third, in the same way California’s zero emissions law created a market for electric cars, a law stipulating statutory responsibility for a gun to be secure at all times, would create a market to address the 300 million guns currently present in the United States. Insurance companies, for example, could offer liability insurance and determine whether or a not a gun is secure before assuming any financial responsibility for its owner. If accused of negligence, insurance would be impartial collaborating testimony that the gun owner had secure storage and was being a responsible gun owner.

Fourth, if a standard for what constitutes secure gun storage is developed, then, contractors, carpenters and homeowners could retrofit existing homes and also be included in new homes. Again, secure guns are the gun owner’s responsibility, but as other market entities become part of a network of responsibility, gun security could become more of a reality.

Fifth, to address the mentally ill and their access to guns, we need a statutory law similar to Canada’s that requires two unrelated adults to vouch for the sanity of the person and the family who wants to buy guns.

Now that we know what a mentally unstable son can do, would any neighbor or teacher vouch for Mrs. Lanza to buy and own a semi-automatic Bushmaster? Are we going to continue to accept the easy access to guns that leads to bullet-riddled bodies of our friends and neighbors, our students and our children?

And finally, we need a responsible National Rifle Association. Currently, it creates fear campaigns that promote the purchase of more and more guns while ignoring that ordinary citizen and their guns should also be “a well-regulated militia.” As such, the NRA must provide leadership in promoting personal responsibility if it is to have credible standing in discussions on the statutory limits on the behavior of citizen rights to own and bear arms.

So I agree: Negligent people kill people — with guns.

So secure all guns.

No access, no crime,

Punish negligence.

No more mass killings.

Patricio Cisneros Ortega lives in Ogden. Contact him at

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