Tuesday October 2, 2012

STOCKBRIDGE

Tomorrow is the first debate between Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. I don't know what they will be debating but I am sure foreign policy, health care and the economy will among the topics - and sure as shooting, they won't be talking about gun control.

Neither one of them has had much to say about gun control during campaign season despite some of the horrific shootings that have occurred. After the Aurora, Colo., shootings, President Obama said that while he believes in the Second Amendment, and recognizes the tradition of gun ownership that has passed on from generation to generation, he believes, "AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals. They belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. We should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons, and we should check someone's criminal record before they can check out a gun seller." He called for " new restrictions barring unstable people from purchasing weapons."

Mitt Romney signed into law an assault weapons ban when he was governor of this state. But after the Aurora shootings, he expressed ambivalence about introducing a new version of the federal ban on assault weapons that expired during George W. Bush's presidency. "The idea of one party jamming through something over the objection of the other tends to divide the nation, not make us a more safe and prosperous place.


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" Neither Romney nor Obama wants to make waves over gun control or advocate for more restrictions and risk losing the votes of gun owners and raising the ire of the NRA. A Gallup Poll shows that over the past 20 years, many people have stopped favoring stricter gun laws for more lenient ones. In some states, the laws have become so lenient that even college students are allowed to carry guns.

Last March, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the University of Colorado, Boulder had to allow those with concealed weapon permits to carry their guns on campus. A few weeks ago, UC Boulder faculty members got together to discuss "how to turn over the policy through legislative channels," according to an article in The New York Times.

I cannot imagine anything more terrifying than being a teacher in a classroom full of students who might or might not be packing heat. Imagine what could happen if you asked a gun-carrying student to stop using his cell phone during class, or told him you would not accept his late paper, or you would not change that Cto a B. In the course of my teaching years, I have confronted students for unacceptable classroom behavior and if they had guns, I am sure they would have cheerfully shot me. Although some states have restrictions and laws about bulk ammunition deliveries (California and Massachusetts are among those that do not allow it), it is not hard to buy ammunition online. Bulk sales increased dramatically when people got worried that when he was first elected, President Obama might introduce legislation to tighten controls on weapon and ammunition purchases. The Aurora shooter, James Holmes, a University of Colorado graduate student, was not only able to get a concealed weapon permit, he was also able to buy 600 rounds of ammunition online without anyone questioning his sanity or motivation. One of the four guns he bought at local stores was an A-R assault rifle that came under the federal weapons ban the Bush admin-istration let expire.

During a speech to the National Rifle Association. Romney said his winning the presidency would ensure that the Supreme Court would continue to protect gun rights under the Second Amendment. But as much as gun rights need protection, all of us need protection from certain kinds of weapons and bulk ammunition sales.

It is too bad there is more to be risked than gained in talking about gun control in a presidential debate. But without an assault weapons ban, every one of us - including the 47 percent of us who own guns, is at risk.

Michelle Gillett is a regular Eagle contributor.