Ruben Cantu

Ruben Cantu

In the wake of the El Paso shooting, and after reflecting on the most recent acts of senseless violence against unsuspecting victims, which include the dead, the wounded and their families and friends, I’ve come to the conclusion that change is needed.

What kind of change?

Gun rights advocates may say stricter gun regulations will only affect law abiding citizens while criminals will continue doing unregulated and unsupervised “parking lot purchases.”

Besides, in most of the recent shootings we know the shooters purchased the firearms they used to shoot their victims legally. So there goes the regulations argument.

What about mental health issues?

I am no expert in the medical or legal fields, but as far as I can tell no one has brought up the mental health issue in the El Paso shooting.

However, I’d imagine that nobody in their right mind would like to put a weapon into the hands of somebody who is mentally unstable. But then again who can determine who is mentally sound in an effective and cost-efficient way? So there goes the mental health argument.

Voices for gun control say firearms like the AK-47-style rifle used in the shooting at the El Paso Walmart store, and the AR-15-type rifle used by the Dayton, Ohio shooter were designed for military purposes and should not be on the streets, easily available for civilians. I used the terms “style” and “type” because gun enthusiasts will be quick to point out that unlike their military counterparts the civilian versions are not full auto.

But anyway, do we really want to put firearms in the hands of people like 20-year-old Dmitriy Andreychenko, who less than a week after the El Paso and Dayton shootings alarmed shoppers at a Walmart store in Springfield, Missouri by walking around armed with a rifle and wearing body armor.

He was testing his constitutional right to bear arms and ended up arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat, according to press reports.

If the charges against him are going to go anywhere I couldn’t tell. But is it in the best interest of the people of this country to have people like him having the right to carry a gun?

Not long ago, here in our very own Del Rio we had a case of gun violence taking the life of a young mother of five. I am not going to go into the particulars since it has been widely covered and it is still an open case.

Whether these and other crimes would have been committed anyway without the firearms lays on the grounds of speculation. But one thing is for sure, the possession of semi-auto firearms with large capacity magazines makes it easier for assailants to commit their heinous crimes.

The point here is: there is no simple solution, but all of the efforts made by our society are worth it.

Gun rights and gun control shouldn’t be in opposite ends of the spectrum. Our modern reality is we need to do our absolute best to make sure everyone’s constitutional rights are respected, but we also need to make sure that people with little to no judgement do not have easy access to firearms.

There is nothing wrong with background checks. Background checks on all gun sales and the eradication of the gun show loophole.

It is true that any federal firearms licensed dealer is required to run a background check when selling a firearm, but transactions amongst particulars are not regulated.

Truth is that if somebody wants to hurt somebody else they will find a way to get it done. But it is also true that it is our responsibility as a society to make our absolute best in trying to lessen the damage and to minimize the number of casualties.

The argument of having the average Joe policing our malls and schools does not hold water.

What we need is trained peace officers who are dedicated to maintaining the peace amongst us.

Having a good guy armed confronting an armed bad guy is good, but having a peace officer with a firearm confronting a bad guy that does not have a firearm is even better.

The answer lays in the middle ground.

It is going to be a long road, but at some point we need to take the first step. There is no better time than now to get something started.

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