States must find gun regulation compromise

  • Wednesday, February 21, 2018 1:30am
  • Opinion

When he was a candidate for president, Donald Trump promised to do the seemingly impossible if elected. He said he would negotiate with the NRA and get the singularly powerful lobbying organization to agree to some common sense gun regulations.

That promise seemed to evaporate after the NRA gave his election campaign millions of dollars. One of his first acts as president was to sign a bill rolling back regulations that would make it harder for mentally ill people to get guns.

It appeared Trump lost the opportunity to put his self-purported negotiating skills to the test after a 19-year-old man opened fire in a Florida high school on Valentine’s Day and killed 17 people. The tragedy has become a watershed moment — led by high school students — as the stranglehold the NRA has had on American politics for so long seems to be crumbling, if just a little.

Responding to public pressure, the president now says he will support a ban on bump stocks and an effort to improve background checks on gun ownership.

Long before the shootings in Las Vegas or Parkland, the majority of Americans said they believe that common-sense gun regulations could decrease gun violence without running afoul of the Second Amendment.

That doesn’t mean banning guns, but restricting access to assault weapons and keeping guns out of the hands of those found to be mentally ill or unstable.

It may be up to states, and even cities, to enact sensible, measured laws.

In Olympia, four firearms bills have a chance of becoming law. One bill makes owning or selling a bump stock a felony crime. Another would allow a person at risk of suicide to voluntarily and temporarily give up his or her right to own a firearm. A third would add a domestic-violence-related harassment conviction to the list of crimes that prohibit a person from being able to own a gun.

A fourth would require police to run a background check before returning a person’s concealed weapons permit.

None of these bills would radically change gun laws, but they are sensible steps and send an important message: Lawmakers will not be held hostage to any special-interest group but will act in the best interests of all.

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